On this day in 1920 jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker was born. In the video below, Parker performs "Hot House" with trumpeter (and frequent collaborator) Dizzy Gillespie in 1951. Image via Shutterstock.
A lyrical experimentalist
John Hollenbeck's wildly experimental music matters not for its wild experiments. It matters because it's good.
Donald Byrd's jazz-pop-funk mix foreshadowed the hybridization of music in the digital era.
An origin narrative needs grounding in place, and the myth of jazz’s maturation during the Harlem Renaissance positions the music in the nexus of black expression, white emulation, cross-exploitation, and kitsch at the Cotton Club. From the time of its rise in the Prohibition Era, the club has been notorious for packaging African-American performance as exotica for white oglers. A newly staged production at City Center in New York, Cotton Club Parade, does some repackaging of that packaging for the 21st-century.
Jazz music, as is also the case with the old down-home spirituals, gospel and jubilee songs, jumps, shouts and moans, is essentially an American vernacular or idiomatic modification of musical conventions imported from Europe, beginning back during the time of the early settlers of the original colonies.
There came a time when Louis Armstrong decided that his importance as a musician and his status as a worldwide American entertainer were of such magnitude that he should produce his own documentation of his career. The first of those efforts was published in 1936, when Armstrong himself was not yet thirty-six years old. Its title was Swing That Music. No collaborator, editor, or ghostwriter was identified, not even when the book was re-issued fifty-five years later.