Over most of the next two years, the saxophonist produced many of the recordings that came to be regarded as his own best work, and some of the most remarkable jazz improvisation and back-of-an-envelope composing ever committed to disc. The latter recordings came early in the Dial years, in the spring of , and indicate how completely Parker had mastered his craft. His technique flawlessly adapted to the dazzling speed with which he could improvise fresh melody, change accents and rhythmic emphases from chorus to chorus, and hook together startling new lines from his voluminous mental library of phrases and themes. Charlie Parker - Ornithology Parker was surrounded by inventive musicians in this period, but he sometimes sounded as if he could deliver an entire sermon on the possibilities of the new bebop form all by himself. A famous example of how much music Bird could pack into the most briefly-glimpsed of opportunities is his unaccompanied passage after the theme statement of A Night in Tunisia, a mesmerising fragment simply credited in the jazz annals as the Famous Alto Break.
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Early career[ edit ] In the mids, Parker began to practice diligently. During this period he mastered improvisation and developed some of the ideas that led to the later development of Bebop. In an interview with Paul Desmond , Parker said that he spent three to four years practicing up to 15 hours a day. His attempt to improvise failed when he lost track of the chord changes. Along the way, the caravan of musicians had a car accident and Parker broke three ribs and fractured his spine.
Parker struggled with drug use for the rest of his life. Despite his near death experience on the way to the Ozarks in , Parker returned to the area in where he spent some serious time woodshedding and developing his sound.
He held several other jobs as well. Playing through the changes on the song "Cherokee", Parker discovered a new musical vocabulary and sound that forever shifted the course of music history. The up-side of the summer was his introduction to Dizzy Gillespie by Step Buddy Anderson near 19th and Vine in the summer of On a trip to Omaha he earned his nickname from McShann and the band after an incident with a chicken and the tour bus.
This period is virtually undocumented, due to the strike of — by the American Federation of Musicians , during which time few professional recordings were made. He realized that the 12 semitones of the chromatic scale can lead melodically to any key, breaking some of the confines of simpler jazz soloing.
There are three basic bebop scales used by Charlie Parker. The Mixolydian dominant seventh bebop scale can be used primarily against dominant seventh chords. The Dorian bebop scale is used primarily against minor seventh chords. The Major bebop scale is used primarily against major sixth and major seventh chords. Each of these bebop scales is an eight-note scale rather than the typical seven-note scale.
Charlie Parker was a primary influence on the approaches of guitarist Grant Green. Early in its development, this new type of jazz was rejected by many of the established, traditional jazz musicians who disdained their younger counterparts.
The beboppers responded by calling these traditionalists " moldy figs ". However, some musicians, such as Coleman Hawkins and Tatum, were more positive about its development, and participated in jam sessions and recording dates in the new approach with its adherents. As a result, it gained limited radio exposure. Bebop musicians had a difficult time gaining widespread recognition. Bebop soon gained wider appeal among musicians and fans alike. On November 26, , Parker led a record date for the Savoy label, marketed as the "greatest Jazz session ever.
Most of the group returned to New York, but Parker remained in California, cashing in his return ticket to buy heroin. He experienced great hardship in California, eventually being committed to Camarillo State Mental Hospital for a six-month period.
When Parker received his discharge from the hospital, he was clean and healthy. He returned to New York, resumed his addiction to heroin and recorded dozens of sides for the Savoy and Dial labels, which remain some of the high points of his recorded output. Many of these were with his so-called "classic quintet" including Davis and Roach. He was a keen student of classical music, and contemporaries reported he was most interested in the music and formal innovations of Igor Stravinsky and longed to engage in a project akin to what later became known as Third Stream , a new kind of music, incorporating both jazz and classical elements as opposed to merely incorporating a string section into performance of jazz standards.
On November 30, , Norman Granz arranged for Parker to record an album of ballads with a mixed group of jazz and chamber orchestra musicians. Heroin was difficult to obtain once he moved to California, where the drug was less abundant, so he used alcohol as a substitute.
A recording for the Dial label from July 29, , provides evidence of his condition. Before this session, Parker drank a quart of whiskey. According to the liner notes of Charlie Parker on Dial Volume 1 , Parker missed most of the first two bars of his first chorus on the track, "Max Making Wax". When he finally did come in, he swayed wildly and once spun all the way around, away from his microphone. On "Bebop" the final track Parker recorded that evening he begins a solo with a solid first eight bars; on his second eight bars, however, he begins to struggle, and a desperate Howard McGhee , the trumpeter on this session, shouts, "Blow!
He re-recorded the tune in for Verve. The official causes of death were lobar pneumonia and a bleeding ulcer , but Parker also had an advanced case of cirrhosis and had suffered a heart attack. Dizzy Gillespie paid for the funeral arrangements  and organized a lying-in-state, a Harlem procession officiated by Congressman and Reverend Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Examples include " Ornithology " which borrows the chord progression of jazz standard " How High the Moon " and is said to be co-written with trumpet player Little Benny Harris , and "Moose The Mooche" one of many Parker compositions based on the chord progression of "I Got Rhythm".
The practice was not uncommon prior to bebop, but it became a signature of the movement as artists began to move away from arranging popular standards and toward composing their own material. Parker contributed greatly to the modern jazz solo, one in which triplets and pick-up notes were used in unorthodox ways to lead into chord tones, affording the soloist with more freedom to use passing tones , which soloists previously avoided.
Parker was admired for his unique style of phrasing and innovative use of rhythm. Miles Davis once said, "You can tell the history of jazz in four words: Louis Armstrong. Charlie Parker".
50 great moments in jazz: Charlie Parker teams up with Ross Russell