March 14

Announcing the forthcoming publication of  
RIPM Jazz Periodicals
 a collection of 100 searchable, full-text journals 

Charlie Parker Remembered

Jazz: The Metronome Yearbook,
s. v. No. 1 (1955): 37. 

This year RIPM will be releasing the second title in its Preservation Series, Jazz Periodicals, in collaboration with the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University and RIPM’s Partner and Participating Libraries.  The first phase of this collection will consist of approximately 100 American (U.S.) full-text jazz journals published in the main from the 1920s to roughly the year 2000.  Jazz Periodicals will be available exclusively on RIPM’s own specially-designed interface, the RIPMPlus Platform. In anticipation of this exciting new project, we will occasionally be selecting content from our jazz archive to be featured in RIPM’s Curios, News, and Chronicles.  

 Bird’s Best Recordings

This week marks the 63rd anniversary of the untimely passing of the iconic jazz alto saxophonist and composer Charlie Parker (1920-1955). Perhaps the leading figure in the development of bebop, Parker’s approaches to melody, improvisation, harmonization, and rhythm continue to leave a lasting impression on contemporary jazz culture, raising the profile of jazz artists to creative intellectuals.  So significant were Parker’s contributions that when supposedly asked to comment on the history of jazz, trumpeter Miles Davis replied with just four words: Louis Armstrong; Charlie Parker. Also affectionately known as “Yardbird,” or “Bird,” Parker lives on today in his many classic live and studio recordings.

In celebration of the genius of Charlie Parker, we present the words of his fellow jazz artists commenting on their favorite Bird recording in Jazz: The Metronome Yearbook (1950-51, 1953-59).


Jazz: The Metronome Yearbook, s. v. No. 1 (1956): 81; Down Beat Music Yearbook, vol. 4 (1959): 11. 

Ko-Ko is widely considered one of the first compositions to usher in the bebop era.  The piece starts with Parker playing in unison with trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie (who also played piano for this recording), followed by the pair trading eight-measure melodic lines, then another brief unison passage, before Bird begins his solo.  Read more about the unusual history of this piece here.


The Record Changer, vol. 7 no. 9 (September 1948): 8; Jazz: The Metronome Yearbook, (1956): 80. 

Bird composed Relaxin’ at the Camarillo after a six-month stay at the Camarillo State Hospital in Ventura County, California, where he had been recuperating from alcohol and drug addiction.  In his book, West Coast Jazz: Modern Jazz In California, 1945-1960, jazz historian Ted Gioia called the original recording of Relaxin’ “one of the most memorable from Bird’s California stay.”[1]


Jazz: The Metronome Yearbook, (1956): 82; Ibid., (1954): 19. 

Lover Man (Oh, Where Can You Be?) is a 1941 popular song originally written for jazz singer Billie Holiday by Jimmy Davis, Roger Ramirez, and James Sherman.  Of the five versions of this standard recorded by Parker, the most famous Lover Man rendition is the 1946 recording for the Dial label in which Bird, strung out on drugs and booze, was apparently physically supported at the microphone by producer Ross Russell.


Jazz: The Metronome Yearbook, (1956): 82; Cadence, vol. 16 no. 5 (May 1990): 7.

Parker’s Mood was recorded on 18 September 1948 in New York City for Savoy Records.  Along with Bird on his alto saxophone, this recording features some of the great musicians of the early bebop era: Curley Russell on bass, John Lewis on piano, and Max Roach on drums.


Jazz: The Metronome Yearbook, s. v. No. 1 (1959): 14; Jazz: The Metronome Yearbook, (1956): 80.

We end today’s post at Bird’s musical beginnings.  Raised in Kansas City, Missouri, Parker joined the band of jazz pianist and fellow Kansas City native Jay McShann, in 1938.  Along with extensive touring experience, playing with McShann’s band gave Bird the opportunity to be featured on recordings for the first time.  Parker’s solo in the 1941 recording of Hootie Blues begins thirty-seven seconds into the clip below.


Three of the fathers of modern jazz: drummer Kenny Clarke, pianist Thelonious Monk, and Bird
Jazz: The Metronome Yearbook, s. v. No. 1 (1959): 56.

RIPM search tip: Be on the lookout for more updates and posts on the RIPM Preservation Series: Jazz Periodicals, coming soon!

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RIPM is an international non-profit organization preserving and providing access to music periodicals published in more than twenty countries between approximately 1760 and 1966, from Bach to Bernstein. Functioning under the auspices of the International Musicological Society, and the International Association of Music Libraries, Archives, and Documentation Centres, RIPM produces four electronic publications: Retrospective Index to Music Periodicals, Retrospective Index to Music Periodicals with Full Text, European and North American Music Periodicals (Preservation Series), and RIPM Jazz Periodicals (Preservation Series, forthcoming).


[1] Ted Gioia, West Coast Jazz: Modern Jazz In California, 1945-1960. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), 26.

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Posted March 14, 2018 by Ben Knysak in category "Curios and Chronicles