Presented in-class @ The University of Lethbridge (Calgary Campus), Alberta.
On the 23rd of November 2013 by Cody Leavitt and Moses Seriki
For "The Introduction to Music" course under the watchful eyes of
Professor John Anderson.
Early Music Career
Genre & Contribution
What is Bebop?
What is Jazz Improvisation?
Charlie Parker’s “Confirmation”
What Did You Hear?
Born August 29, 1920, in Kansas City, Kansas
Moved to Kansas City, Missouri when he was 7 years old. At the time, the
city was a lively center for African-American music, including jazz, blues
Charlie discovered his own talent for music through taking lessons at public
schools. As a teen, he played the baritone horn in the school band
By the time Charlie was 15, the alto saxophone was his instrument of
4. From 1935 to 1939, Parker played in Kansas City, Missouri,
nightclub scene with local jazz and blues bands
In 1938, he played with the pianist Jay McShann's band, with which he
toured Chicago and New York.
In 1939, Parker decided to stick around New York City for a while. There
he remained for almost a year, working as a professional musician and
jamming for pleasure on the side
In 1939, his father died. After his father death, he returned to New York
and made his first recording with McShann's band
5. He was a spontaneous composer playing jazz music at the time .
Playing Jazz, He became one of the pioneers for “Bebop”.
Bebop is generally considered the beginning of modern jazz. Bebop is
also referred to as “bop”
Bebop in jazz is a harder, irregular and less predictable pattern of playing
He was also known for his great improvisation technique playing the alto
6. Derived probably from some of the syllables used in scat singing (“doowah, be-bop a loo waah”)
Dependant on inventiveness, quick thinking, virtuosity, and creativity of
Designed to be different from “swing” at the time.
Beboppers avoided improvising on the melody their solos were built
strictly on the chord patterns and often made no reference to tune. This
made an original music sound different when played by a Bebopper
Bebop is based on a remarkable conservative structure which normally
begins with a 32-bar tune.
Often, the melody instrument plays the tune in unison, then each
instrument improvises over the chords of the tune
7. Jazz improvisation is the process of spontaneously creating fresh
melodies over the continuously repeating cycle of chord changes of a
tune. The improviser may depend on the contours of the original tune, or
solely on the possibilities of the chords' harmonies
It has been said that the best improvised music sounds composed, and
that the best composed music sounds improvised. Composed music and
improvised music may seem to be opposites, but in Jazz they merge in a
"Improvisation is the ability to create something very spiritual, something
of one's own." – Sonny Rollins
8. Car crash leads to morphine addiction, graduating to heroin use.
Heroin plentiful in NYC Jazz scene.
Parker missed gigs, busked on street, & sold instruments for money.
1945: Gig in California didn’t turn out well, band members returned to
NYC. Parker sold return ticket to purchase heroin.
Heroin harder to obtain in California, addiction turns to alcohol.
Committed to mental hospital: Camarillo
9. 1946: “Charlie Parker on Dial Vol. #1” liner notes describe Parker’s
condition during recording.
Missed his cues, had to be propped up, yet still able to nail solos.
Upset that recordings were released re-recorded them.
Attended rehab in California & managed to produce a great number of
recordings during this time.
Resumed heroin addiction upon returning to NYC.
10. Passed away March 12, 1955.
Causes related to drug & alcohol abuse.
34 years old at time of death.
Coroner: “body of a 50 to 60 year old.”
Wished to be buried “at home” in NYC.
Buried in Missouri after family infighting over estate distribution.
Charlie Parker Memorial “Bird Lives” erected in Kansas City, Missouri.
11. 1953: Played & recorded a live album at Massey Hall in Toronto using a
plastic saxophone. An “experimentation in sound”.
2 Posthumous Grammy awards:
1974: Best Performance by a Soloist
1984: Lifetime Achievement Award
“Free As A Bird”
Ran over a chicken with car, Parker stopped to retrieve it so that he
could have it cooked for dinner that evening.
Alto Sax (Charlie Parker)
32 Bar Tune
Consists of 4, 8 Measure Sections
Rapid Note Movements
13. “You can tell the history of Jazz in four words:
Louis Armstrong and Charlie Parker”
14. A typical Bebop composition:
Chord progression descending initially
Cycled back upwards using 4ths
Recorded in one take
Majority of song is improvised with each instrument getting a
chance to shine
15. “Music is your own experience, your own
thoughts, your wisdom. If you don’t live it, it
won’t come out of your horn. They teach
you there’s a boundary line to music. But,
man, there’s no boundary line to art.”