Charlie "Bird" Parker.

Essay by cadenzaHigh School, 12th grade October 2003

download word file, 5 pages 3.0

As the nineteenth century drew to a close, so to did the era where the grandeur of classical music prospered as the essential foundation in the world of Western music. Society implored music that boasted simplicity, energy and a modest approach to real life issues, devoid of the glamour and cultural idioms exhibited by former composers, predominantly European. Inevitably, the famed arrival of jazz emerged at the turn of the century from the creative flair of Negro Spirituals, gospel and blues. As with nearly every facet of music, jazz is only a broad term applied to represent a myriad of styles within jazz. Bebop, rag, swing, blues and scat are only a few examples of jazz styles, each identified via individual characteristics and features. Some styles have developed naturally, while others were the direct product of influential leaders.

Charlie Parker, a virtuosic saxophonist and composer is the epitome of a jazz leader; his field - bebop.

Born in 1920, many perceive Parker as a product of Kansas City jam sessions, his hometown. As a youth, Parker was exposed to a range of Afro-American folk music (his father was a victim of black slavery) and, as was common in the U.S. in the 1930's, a variety of twentieth century concert music.

Bebop can be identified as a style that exhibits frequent use of improvised solos, dissonant chords, complex rhythms and a continuous melodic line. Its performing media usually consists of a reed instrument, keyboard or piano, percussion and bass. The earliest examples of bebop were labelled as "inhuman" "inaccessible" and "absurd" by cynical journalists. Devoted advocates of the style, however, recognised the potential of the revolutionary advent and eagerly anticipated its rapid ascent to the heights of popularity. Atlantic Monthly music critic Francis Davis claimed Parker, "As Armstrong had...