Charlie Parker (aka "Bird")

Charles Parker, Jr. (August 29, 1920 – March 12, 1955), is also commonly known by his nicknames Bird or Yardbird,[2].

He was an American jazz saxophonist and composer, who, along with Dizzy Gillespie is widely considered to be a founder of the BeBop style of jazz music.

His style and technique has become one of the most widely imitated by saxophonists and other musicians in modern jazz, and forever reshaped the music. Along with pioneers Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, he is considered to be one of the most influential of jazz musicians of all time.


Here are a sampling of Charlie Parker videos. For the full resource, go to Charlie Parker Videos


Audio Tracks[]

Here are a sampling of Parker's tracks. For access to all of his songs, go to his Discography:

Audio Tracks coming soon!

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Parker acquired the nickname "Yardbird" early in his career,[3] There are conflicting stories on the nickname, but the most common tale is that "Yardbird" was given to him while traveling to a gig with The Jay McShann Orchestra. The car that he was riding in accidentally ran over a chicken, and Parker insisted on taking the dead "yardbird" to fix up for dinner at their destination, rather than have it go to waste.

The shortened form "Bird" remained Parker's sobriquet for the rest of his life, inspiring the titles of a number of Parker compositions, such as "Yardbird Suite", "Ornithology" and "Bird of Paradise."

Parker played a leading role in the development of bebop, a form of jazz characterized by fast tempos, virtuoso technique, and improvisation based on harmonic structure. Parker's innovative approaches to melody, rhythm, and harmony exercised enormous influence on his contemporaries. He introduced revolutionary harmonic ideas including a tonal vocabulary employing 9ths, 11ths and 13ths of chords, rapidly implied passing chords, and new variants of altered chords and chord substitutions. His tone was clean and penetrating, but sweet and plaintive on ballads.

Several of Parker's songs have become standards, including "Billie's Bounce", "Anthropology", "Ornithology", and "Confirmation". Although many Parker recordings demonstrate dazzling virtuosic technique and complex melodic lines, such as "Ko-Ko", "Kim", and "Leap Frog," he was also one of the great blues players.

His themeless blues improvisation "Parker's Mood" represents one of the most deeply affecting recordings in jazz. At various times, Parker fused jazz with other musical styles, from classical to Latin music, blazing paths followed later by others.

Parker was an icon for the hipster subculture and later the Beat Generation, personifying the conception of the jazz musician as an uncompromising artist and intellectual, rather than just a popular entertainer.


To learn more about his music, see the Discography for Charlie Parker