11 Aug Charlie Parker at 100: Like Mozart, he transformed an art form and his music has never stopped
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There may not be many causes for celebration these days, but surely one is this year’s Charlie Parker centennial.
In his too short, too fast, too hard, too brilliant 34 years, Parker transformed an art form, no less than Mozart or Chopin or Gershwin did in their similarly brief time among us. Like those revolutionaries, Parker played his instrument – alto saxophone – with astonishing virtuosity. But Parker also did as much as anyone (and more than most) to forge a musical language, one that dominated 20th century jazz and continues to influence it in the 21st.
The world calls it “bebop,” but of course that term cannot begin to capture the rhythmic volatility, melodic intricacy, harmonic innovation and instrumental prowess Parker compressed into his outrageously complex solos. Listen to him take flight – a torrent of ideas soaring freely – and it’s no wonder he’s known and revered around the world simply as Bird.