Art Tatum

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Posted by r2d2 05/02/2009 @ 06:11

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Art Tatum Jazz Festival cancelled - 13abc.com
This year's Art Tatum Jazz Festival won't be taking place at International Park as it has in past years. Corporate funding was cut, making the festival a victim of the economy. Ironically, this year's festival would have coincided with Tatum's 100th...
Adventures in Piano, Haydn to Tatum - New York Times
In contrast was the New York premiere of “When Art Showed Up” by Ms. Assad, a young Brazilian composer. Before beginning the piece she learned that Ms. McDermott, a fan of Art Tatum, had always wanted to play jazz. According to Ms. Assad,...
Tatum's Art Changed Jazz - Wall Street Journal
By WILL FRIEDWALD There's a remarkable photo in the booklet accompanying "Art Tatum," the new 10-CD boxed set of rare music by the legendary pianist now out on the Storyville Records label. We see the jazz icon at work, surrounded by three heavyweight...
Art Tatum's Historical Recording Garners JJA Jazz Awards Nomination - All About Jazz
The Jazz Journalists Association has nominated Art Tatum's Piano Starts Here: Live at The Shrine for Best Historical Recording/Reissue of 2009. The Tatum disc is the second recording in a series of discs, using technology developed by Zenph Studios,...
Low note for car industry mutes summer jazz festival - Financial Times
By Bernard Simon in Toronto Toledo, Ohio, holds a three-day jazz festival each summer on the banks of the Maumee River in honour of Art Tatum, who grew up in the gritty mid-western city and went on to become one of America's most famous jazz pianists....
Audio News for Mary 22, 2009 - Audiophile Audition
Zenph Art Tatum SACD Nominated for Award - The multichannel & binaural SACD “Piano Starts Here: Live at The Shrine” from Zenph Studios has been nominated by the Jazz Journalists Association for Best Historical Recording/Reissue of 2009....
Marian Petrescu Quartet at the Jazz Standard (NYC) on June 16th - All About Jazz
Though he drew deeply from the work of Art Tatum, Kenny Barron, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Michel Petrucciani and many other pianists, Petrescu has always held a special regard for Peterson. “To me, the most important aspects of Oscar's style are the...
Solo Septuagenarian/Octogenerian Piano: Abdullah Ibrahim, Ran ... - All About Jazz
He takes the old chestnut "I Can't Give You Anything But Love" from its normally light-hearted swing setting into a distinctly modern setting that fans of Art Tatum will appreciate. The pianist's two originals, the dark "Centre de Gravite" and volcanic...
Travel News from Scottsdale, Arizona - TravelVideo.tv (press release)
For media information, contact Tatum Luoma at tluoma@scottsdalecvb.com or (480) 889-2719. From equine and western affairs to tasty culinary extravaganzas and a fashion event that will tame even the wildest style mavens, Scottsdale visitors will find...

Art Tatum

Art tatum.jpg

Arthur Tatum Jr. (October 13, 1909 – November 5, 1956) was an American jazz pianist and virtuoso.

Tatum was born in Toledo, Ohio. His father, Arthur Tatum, Sr., was a guitarist and an elder at Grace Presbyterian Church, where his mother played piano. He had two siblings, Karl and Arlene. From infancy he suffered from cataracts of disputed cause which left him blind in one eye and with only very limited vision in the other. A number of surgeries improved his eye condition to a degree but these efforts were reversed when he was assaulted in 1930 at age 20.

A child prodigy with perfect pitch, Tatum learned to play by ear, picking out church hymns by the age of three, learning tunes from the radio and copying piano-roll recordings his mother owned. He developed an incredibly fast playing style, without losing accuracy. As a child he was also very sensitive to the piano's intonation and insisted it be tuned often.

In 1925, Tatum moved to the Columbus School for the Blind, where he studied music and learned braille. Subsequently he studied piano with Overton G. Rainey at either the Jefferson School or the Toledo School of Music. Rainey, who was black and visually impaired, likely taught Tatum in the classical tradition, as Rainey did not improvise and discouraged his students from playing jazz. In 1927, Tatum began playing on Toledo radio station WSPD as 'Arthur Tatum, Toledo's Blind Pianist', during interludes in Ellen Kay's shopping chat program and soon had his own program. By the age of 19, Tatum was playing with singer Jon Hendricks, also an Ohioan, at the local Waiters' and Bellmens' Club. As word of Tatum spread, national performers, including Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Joe Turner and Fletcher Henderson, passing through Toledo would make it a point to drop in to hear the piano phenom.

Tatum drew inspiration from his contemporaries James P. Johnson and Fats Waller, who exemplified the stride piano style, and from the more 'modern' Earl Hines, six years Tatum's senior. A major event in his meteoric rise to success was his appearance at a cutting contest in 1933 in New York City that included Waller, Johnson and Willie "The Lion" Smith. Standard contest pieces included Johnson's "Harlem Strut" and "Carolina Shout" and Fats Waller's "Handful of Keys." Tatum triumphed with his arrangements of "Tea for Two" and "Tiger Rag", in a performance that was considered to be the last word in stride piano. Tatum's debut was historic because he outplayed the elite competition and heralded the demise of the stride era. He was not challenged further until stride specialist Donald Lambert initiated a half-serious rivalry with him.

Tatum worked in New York at the Onyx Club for a few months and recorded his first four solo sides on the Brunswick label in March, 1933. He returned to Ohio and played around the midwest in the mid-1930s and in 1937 returned to New York where he appeared at clubs and played on national radio programs. The following year he toured England, playing for three months at Ciro's Club owned by bandleader Ambrose and in the late 1930s he played in Los Angeles and New York.

Tatum introduced a strong, swinging pulse to jazz piano, interspersed with spectacular cadenzas that swept across the entire keyboard. His interpretations of popular songs were grandiose in structure and intricate in detail. He sometimes improvised lines that presaged bebop and later jazz genres but generally he did not venture far from the original melodic lines of songs. Jazz soloing in the 1930s had not yet evolved into the free-ranging extended improvisations that flowered in the bebop era of the 1940s and 50's and beyond. But Tatum embellished those melodic lines with an array of signature devices and runs that appeared throughout his repertoire, sometimes too 'repetitiously' in the view of some. As he matured, Tatum became more adventurous in terms of abandoning the melodies and elongating those improvisations. Tatum did not embrace the bebop style, however, nor did he fraternize a great deal with its proponents.

Tatum was an innovator in reharmonizing melodies by changing the supporting chord progressions or by altering the root movements of a tune so as to more effectively apply familiar harmonies. Many of his harmonic concepts and larger chord voicings (e.g., 13th chords with various flat or sharp intervals) were well ahead of their time in the 1930s (except for their partial emergence in popular songs of the jazz age) and they would be explored by bebop-era musicians a decade later. He worked some of the upper extensions of chords into his lines, a practice which was further developed by Bud Powell and Charlie Parker, which in turn was an influence on the development of 'modern jazz'. Tatum also pioneered the use of dissonance in jazz piano, as can be heard, for example, on his recording of "Aunt Hagar's Blues", which uses extensive dissonance to achieve a bluesy effect. In addition to using major and minor seconds, dissonance was inherent in the complex chords that Tatum frequently used.

Tatum could also play the blues with authority, but his repertoire was predominantly Broadway and popular standards, whose chord progressions and variety better suited his talents. He was not inclined toward understatement or expansive use of space. His approach was prolix, pyrotechnic, dramatic and joyous. His protean style combined stride, jazz, swing, boogie-woogie and classical elements, while the musical ideas flowed in rapid-fire fashion. He was playful, spontaneous and loved to insert quotes from other songs into his improvisations. Tatum was rarely content to play in a simplified way, but always sought to impress with his astonishing technique and clever harmonizations. A handful of critics have complained that Tatum played too many notes or was too ornamental or was even 'unjazzlike'.

From the foundation of stride, Tatum made great leaps forward in technique and harmony and he honed a groundbreaking improvisational style that extended the limits of what was possible in jazz piano. His innovations were to greatly influence later jazz pianists, such as Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk, Oscar Peterson, Billy Taylor, Bill Evans and Chick Corea. One of Tatum's innovations was his extensive use of the pentatonic scale, which may have inspired later pianists to further mine its possibilities as a device for soloing. Herbie Hancock described Tatum's unique tone as "majestic" and devoted some time to unlocking this sound and to noting Tatum's harmonic arsenal.

The sounds that Tatum produced with the piano were also distinctive. It was said that he could make a bad piano sound good. Generally playing at mezzoforte volume, he employed the entire keyboard from deep bass tones to sonorous mid-register chords to sparkling upper register runs. He used the sustain pedal sparingly so that each note was clearly articulated and chords were cleanly sounded. Tatum's harmonic invention produced tonal colors that identified his musical palette. He played with boundless energy and occasionally his speedy and precise delivery produced an almost mechanical effect not unlike the sound of a piano roll.

Critic Gunther Schuller declared "On one point there is universal agreement: Tatum's awesome technique." That technique was marked by a calm physical demeanor and efficiency that eschewed theatrical body movement and facial expression. The effortless gliding of his hands over difficult passages puzzled most who witnessed the phenomenon. He especially mystified other pianists to whom Tatum appeared to be "playing the impossible." Even when playing scintillating runs at astounding velocity, it appeared that his fingers hardly moved. Using self-taught fingering, including an array of two-fingered runs, he executed the pyrotechnics with superb accuracy and timing. Tatum also displayed supreme independence of the hands and improvised counterpoint with a command unparalleled in jazz piano. He played chords with a relatively flat-fingered technique compared to the curvature taught in classical training. His technique was all the more remarkable considering that he drank prodigious amounts of alcohol when performing, yet his recordings are never sloppy. Jimmy Rowles said "Most of the stuff he played was clear over my head. There was too much going on — both hands were impossible to believe. You couldn't pick out what he was doing because his fingers were so smooth and soft, and the way he did it — it was like camouflage." When his fastest tracks of "Tiger Rag" are slowed down, they still reveal a coherent, syncopated rhythm.

Tatum tended to work and to record unaccompanied, partly because relatively few musicians could keep pace with his lightning-fast tempos and advanced harmonic vocabulary. As though a force of nature, he did not readily adapt or defer to other musicians in ensemble settings. Early in his career he was required to restrain himself when he worked as accompanist for vocalist Adelaide Hall in 1932-33. Perhaps because Tatum believed there was a limited audience for solo piano, he formed a trio in 1943 with guitarist Tiny Grimes and bassist Slam Stewart, whose perfect pitch enabled him to follow Tatum's excursions. He later recorded with other musicians, including a notable session with the 1944 Esquire Jazz All-Stars, which included Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday and other jazz greats, at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. He also recorded memorable group sessions for Norman Granz in the early 1950s.

Tatum's repertoire consisted mainly of music from the Great American Songbook -- Tin Pan Alley, Broadway and other popular music of the 20's, 30's and 40's. He played his own arrangements of a few classical piano pieces as well, most famously Dvořák's Humoresque no. 7. Although Tatum was not a composer, his versions of popular numbers were so original as to border on composition.

Mainstream jazz piano has gone in a different direction than that pioneered by Tatum. Nevertheless, transcriptions of Tatum are popular and are often practiced assiduously. But perhaps because his playing was so difficult to copy, only a handful of musicians — such as Oscar Peterson, Johnny Costa, Johnny Guarnieri, Adam Makowicz, Luther G. Williams and Steven Mayer — have attempted to seriously emulate or challenge Tatum. Bud Powell was greatly influenced by Tatum, in terms of a prolific and exciting soloing style, although Powell was clearly in the bebop movement. Phineas Newborn's playing, such as his recording of "Willow Weep For Me", is closely modeled on Tatum.

Tatum recorded commercially from 1932 until near his death. Although recording opportunities were somewhat intermittent for most of his career due to his solo style, he left copious recordings. He recorded for Decca (1934–41), Capitol (1949, 1952) and for the labels associated with Norman Granz (1953–56). Tatum demonstrated remarkable memory when he recorded 68 solo tracks for Norman Granz in two days, all but three of the tracks in one take. He also he recorded a series of group recordings for Granz with, among others, Ben Webster, Jo Jones, Buddy DeFranco, Benny Carter, Harry Sweets Edison , Roy Eldridge and Lionel Hampton.

Although only a small amount of film showing Tatum playing exists today, several minutes of professionally-shot archival footage can be found in Martin Scorsese's documentary The Blues. Tatum appeared in the 1947 movie The Fabulous Dorseys, first playing a solo and then accompanying Dorsey's band in an impromptu song.

Tatum appeared on Steve Allen's Tonight Show in the early 1950s, and on other television shows from this era. Unfortunately, all of the kinescopes of the Allen shows, which were stored in a warehouse along with other now defunct shows, were thrown into a local rubbish dump to make room for new studios. However, the soundtracks were recorded off-air by Tatum enthusiasts at the time, and many are included in Storyville Records extensive series of rare Tatum recordings.

Tatum is portrayed briefly in the 2004 film Ray, a biopic about R&B artist Ray Charles. When Charles enters a club he remarks "Are my ears deceiving me or is that Art Tatum?" Actor Johnny O'Neill who plays Tatum, displays a short but prime example of Art's cool and collected posture while maintaining incredibly fast and mesmerizing rhythms on the piano.

Art Tatum died at Queen of Angels Medical Center in Los Angeles, California from the complications of uremia (as a result of kidney failure), having been a heavy drinker since his teen years. He was originally interred at Angelus Rosedale Cemetery in Los Angeles, but was moved to the Great Mausoleum of Glendale's Forest Lawn Cemetery in 1991. He was survived by his wife, Geraldine Tatum.

Tatum posthumously received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1989.

Numerous stories exist about other musicians' respect for Tatum. Perhaps the most famous is the story that Tatum walked into a club where Fats Waller was playing, Waller stepped away from the piano bench to make way for Tatum, announcing, "I only play the piano, but tonight God is in the house." Fats Waller's son confirmed the statement.

Other luminaries of the day including Vladimir Horowitz, Arthur Rubinstein, Leopold Godowsky - and George Gershwin marveled at Tatum's genius.

The Toledo Jazz Society presents an annual event dedicated to Tatum entitled the Art Tatum Jazz Heritage Festival.

The Zenph Studios, a software company, has built technology that attempts to understand and re-create precisely how musicians play. It gave a "re-performance" of the “Piano Starts Here” album played "just as Art Tatum himself heard it", Toronto Jazz Festival, June 23, 2008. Although a technological marvel, these "re-performances" have been met with decidedly mixed reviews.

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Bebop

Bebop or bop is a form of jazz characterized by fast tempi and improvisation based on the combination of harmonic structure and melody. It was developed in the early and mid-1940s. It first surfaced in musicians' argot some time during the first two years of the Second World War.

The 1939 recording of "Body and Soul" by Coleman Hawkins is an important antecedent of bebop. Hawkins' willingness to stray — even briefly — from the ordinary resolution of musical themes and his playful jumps to double-time signaled a departure from existing jazz. The recording was popular; but more importantly, from a historical perspective, Hawkins became an inspiration to a younger generation of jazz musicians, most notably Charlie Parker, in Kansas City.

In the 1940s, the younger generation of jazz musicians forged a new style out of the swing music of the 1930s. Mavericks like Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk were influenced by the preceding generation's adventurous soloists, such as pianists Art Tatum and Earl Hines, tenor saxophonists Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young and trumpeter Roy Eldridge. Gillespie and Parker, both out of the Earl Hines Band in Chicago had traveled with some of the pre-bop masters, including Jack Teagarden, Earl Hines and Jay McShann. These forerunners of bebop began exploring advanced harmonies, complex syncopation, altered chords, and chord substitutions and the bop generation advanced these techniques with a more freewheeling and often arcane approach.

Minton's Playhouse in New York served as a workout room and experimental theater for early bebop players, including Charlie Christian, who had already hinted at the bop style in innovative solos with Benny Goodman's band.

Christian's major influence was in the realm of rhythmic phrasing. Christian commonly emphasized weak beats and off beats, and often ended his phrases on the second half of the fourth beat. Christian experimented with asymmetrical phrasing, which was to become a core element of the new bop style. Swing improvisation was commonly constructed in two or four bar phrases that corresponded to the harmonic cadences of the underlying song form. Bop improvisers would often deploy phrases over an odd number of bars, and overlap their phrases across bar lines and across major harmonic cadences. Christian and the other early boppers would also begin stating a harmony in their improvised line before it appeared in the song form being outlined by the rhythm section. This momentary dissonance creates a strong sense of forward motion in the improvisation. Swing improvisers commonly emphasized the first and third beats of a measure. But in a bebop composition such as Dizzy Gillespie's "Salt Peanuts", the rhythmic emphasis switches to the second and fourth beats of the measure. Such new rhythmic phrasing techniques give the typical bop solo a feeling of floating free over the underlying song form, rather than being tied into the song form.

Swing drummers had kept up a steady four-to-the-bar pulse on the bass drum. Bop drummers, led by Kenny Clarke, moved the drumset's time-keeping function to the ride or hi-hat cymbal, reserving the bass drum for accents. Bass drum accents were colloquially termed "dropping bombs." Notable bop drummers such as Max Roach, Philly Joe Jones, Roy Haynes, and Kenny Clarke began to support and respond to soloists, almost like a shifting call and response.

This change increased the importance of the string bass. Now, the bass not only maintained the music's harmonic foundation, but also became responsible for establishing a metronomic rhythmic foundation by playing a "walking" bass line of four quarter notes to the bar. While small swing ensembles commonly functioned without a bassist, the new bop style required a bass in every small ensemble.

By 1950, a second wave of bebop musicians — such as Clifford Brown, Sonny Stitt, and Fats Navarro — began to smooth out the rhythmic eccentricities of early bebop. Instead of using jagged phrasing to create rhythmic interest, as the early boppers had, these musicians constructed their improvised lines out of long strings of eighth notes, and simply accented certain notes in the line to create rhythmic variety.

Bebop differed drastically from the straightforward compositions of the swing era, and was instead characterized by fast tempos, asymmetrical phrasing, intricate melodies, and rhythm sections that expanded on their role as tempo-keepers. The music itself seemed jarringly different to the ears of the public, who were used to the bouncy, organized, danceable tunes of Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller during the swing era. Instead, bebop appeared to sound racing, nervous, and often fragmented. But to jazz musicians and jazz music lovers, bebop was an exciting and beautiful revolution in the art of jazz.

While swing music tended to feature orchestrated big band arrangements, bebop music was much more free in its structure. Typically, a theme (a "head," often the main melody of a pop or jazz standard of the swing era) would be presented together at the beginning and the end of each piece, with improvisational solos based on the chords of the tune. Thus, the majority of a song in bebop style would be improvisation, the only threads holding the work together being the underlying harmonies played by the rhythm section. Sometimes improvisation included references to the original melody or to other well-known melodic lines ("allusions," or "riffs"). Sometimes they were entirely original, spontaneous melodies from start to finish.

Chord progressions for bebop tunes were often taken directly from popular swing-era songs and reused with a new and more complex melody, forming new compositions. This practice was already well-established in earlier jazz, but it came to be central to the bebop style.

Bebop musicians also employed several harmonic devices not typical of the jazz music that had come before. Complicated harmonic substitutions for more basic chords became commonplace. These substitutions often emphasized certain dissonant intervals such as the flat ninth, sharp ninth and the sharp eleventh (or tri-tone).

The classic bebop combo consisted of saxophone, trumpet, bass, drums, and piano. This was a format used (and popularized) by both Charlie Parker (alto sax) and Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet) in their 1940s groups and recordings, sometimes augmented by an extra saxophonist or guitar (electric or acoustic), occasionally adding other horns (often a trombone), or other strings (usually fiddle or violin) or dropping an instrument and leaving only a quartet.

Although only one part of a rich jazz tradition, bebop music continues to be played regularly throughout the world. Trends in improvisation since its era have changed from its harmonically-tethered style, but the capacity to improvise over a complex sequence of altered chords is a fundamental part of any jazz education.

The word "bebop" is usually stated to be nonsense syllables (vocables) which were generated in scat singing, and is supposed to have been first attested in 1928. One speculation is that it was a term used by Charlie Christian, because it sounded like something he hummed along with his playing. However, possibly the most plausible theory is that it derives from the cry of "Arriba ! Arriba !" used by Latin American bandleaders of the period to encourage their bands. This squares with the fact that, originally, the terms "bebop" and "rebop" were used interchangeably. By 1945, the use of "bebop"/"rebop" as nonsense syllables was widespread in R&B music, for instance Lionel Hampton's "Hey Ba-Ba-Re-Bop", and a few years later in rock and roll, for instance Gene Vincent's "Be-Bop-A-Lula" (1956).

Alternatively, but following the logic of Gammond, the term could be derived from the shout of "Hey, vaya arriba", used by audiences to exhort a band to "Take it up". When pronounced in Caribbean Spanish, the "V" of vaya - to some ears - has a "B" sound and the terminal "A" of vaya continues into the initial "A" of arriba. The resulting sound, to an American ear, would be quite similar to the phrase "Hey, Ba-Ba Re-Bop". Also, a five note phrase, played variably melodically but always rhythmically invoking the phrase "Hey, Ba-Ba Re-Bop", is the most repeated phrase in all jazz improvisation from the 40's through the late 60s, thus implying that the term might, indeed, have phraseological origins in music and not in language.

By the mid-1950s musicians (Miles Davis and John Coltrane among others) began to explore directions beyond the standard bebop vocabulary. Simultaneously, other players expanded on the bold steps of bebop: "cool jazz" or "West Coast jazz", modal jazz, as well as free jazz and avant-garde forms of development from the likes of George Russell.

Bebop style also influenced the Beat Generation whose spoken-word style drew on jazz rhythms, and whose poets often employed jazz musicians to accompany them. The bebop influence also shows in rock and roll, which contains solos employing a form similar to bop solos, and "hippies" of the 60s and 70s, who, like the boppers had a unique, non-conformist style of dress, a vocabulary incoherent to outsiders, and a communion through music. Fans of bebop were not restricted to the USA; the music gained cult status in France and Japan.

More recently, Hip-hop artists (A Tribe Called Quest, Guru) have cited bebop as an influence on their rapping and rhythmic style. Bassist Ron Carter even collaborated with A Tribe Called Quest on 1991's The Low End Theory, and vibraphonist Roy Ayers and trumpeter Donald Byrd were featured on Jazzmatazz, by Guru, in the same year. Bebop samples, especially bass lines, ride cymbal swing clips, and horn and piano riffs are found throughout the hip-hop compendium.

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Oscar Peterson

Joe Pass and Oscar Peterson at Eastman Theatre Rochester in N.Y.

Oscar Emmanuel Peterson, CC, CQ, O.Ont. (August 15, 1925 – December 23, 2007) was a highly regarded Canadian jazz pianist and composer. He was called the "Maharaja of the keyboard" by Duke Ellington, "O.P." by his friends, and was a member of jazz royalty. He released over 200 recordings, won seven Grammy Awards, and received other numerous awards and honours over the course of his career. He is considered to have been one of the greatest pianists of all time, who played thousands of live concerts to audiences worldwide in a career lasting more than 65 years.

Peterson grew up in the neighbourhood of Little Burgundy, Montreal. It was in this predominantly black neighbourhood that he found himself surrounded by the jazz culture that flourished in the early 20th century. At the age of five, Peterson began honing his skills with the trumpet and piano. However, by the age of seven, after a bout of tuberculosis, he directed all his attention to the piano. His father, Daniel Peterson, an amateur trumpeter and pianist, was one of his first music teachers, and his sister Daisy taught young Oscar classical piano. Young Oscar was persistent at practising scales and classical etudes daily, and thanks to such arduous practice he developed his astonishing virtuosity.

At age nine Peterson played piano with control that impressed professional musicians. For many years his piano studies included four to six hours of practice daily. Only in his later years did he decrease his daily practice to just one or two hours. In 1940, at age fourteen, Peterson won the national music competition organized by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. After that victory, he dropped out of school and became a professional pianist working for a weekly radio show, and playing at hotels and music halls.

Peterson resided in a two-storey house on Hammond Road in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, until his his death in 2007 of kidney failure.

Some of the artists who influenced Peterson's musicianship during the early years were Teddy Wilson, Nat "King" Cole, James P. Johnson and Art Tatum, to whom many have tried to compare Peterson in later years. One of his first exposures to Tatum's musical talents came early in his teen years when his father played Art Tatum's Tiger Rag for him, and Peterson was so intimidated by what he heard that he became disillusioned about his own playing, to the extent of refusing to play the piano at all for several weeks. In his own words, "Tatum scared me to death" and Peterson was "never cocky again" about his mastery at the piano. Tatum was a model for Peterson's musicianship during the 1940s and 1950s. Tatum and Peterson eventually became good friends, although Peterson was always shy about being compared with Tatum and rarely played the piano in Tatum's presence.

Peterson has also credited his sister Daisy Sweeney — a noted piano teacher in Montreal who also taught several other noted Canadian jazz musicians — with being an important teacher and influence on his career. Under his sister's tutelage, Peterson expanded into classical piano training and broadened his range while mastering the core classical pianism from rigorous scales to such staples of every pianist's repertoire as preludes and fugues by Johann Sebastian Bach.

Building on Art Tatum's pianism and aesthetics, Peterson also absorbed Tatum's musical influences, notably from piano concertos by Sergei Rachmaninoff. Rachmaninoff's harmonizations, as well as direct quotations from his 2nd Piano Concerto, are thrown here and there in many recordings by Peterson, including his work with the most familiar formulation of the Oscar Peterson Trio, with bassist Ray Brown and guitarist Herb Ellis. During the 1960s and 1970s Peterson made numerous trio recordings highlighting his piano performances that reveal more of his eclectic style that absorbed influences from various genres of jazz, popular and classical music.

An important step in his career was joining impresario Norman Granz's labels (especially Verve) and Granz's "Jazz at the Philharmonic" project. Granz discovered Peterson in a peculiar manner. As the impresario was being taken to the Montreal airport by cab, the radio was playing a live broadcast of Peterson at a local night club. Granz was so smitten by what he heard that he ordered the driver to take him to the club so that he could meet the pianist. In 1949, Granz introduced Peterson at a Carnegie Hall Jazz at the Philharmonic show in New York.

So was born a lasting relationship and Granz remained Peterson's manager for most of his career. One poignant illustration: in the last two years of his life, Peterson doted on a boxer dog that he named "Smedley," Peterson's nickname for Granz. On the day of Peterson's death, Smedley lay on the bed with him and would not leave.

This was more than a managerial relationship; Peterson praised Granz for standing up for him and other black jazz musicians in the segregationist south of the 1950s and 1960s. For example, in the Canadian Broadcasting Company's two-part documentary video Music in the Key of Oscar, Peterson tells how Granz stood up to a gun-toting southern policeman who wanted to stop the trio from using "white-only" taxis. The entire documentary is a fascinating account of Peterson's life from his Montreal childhood, to his career, to his family relations and includes interviews with Peterson, Herbie Hancock, Quincy Jones and Ella Fitzgerald. Its narrative ends in 1993, just before Peterson's debilitating stroke.

In the course of his career, Peterson developed a reputation as a technically brilliant and melodically inventive jazz pianist and became a regular on Canadian radio from the 1940s. His name was already recognized in the United States. However, his 1949 debut at Carnegie Hall, New York City, arranged by Norman Granz, was uncredited; owing to union restrictions, his appearance could not be billed.

Through Granz's Jazz at the Philharmonic he was able to play with the major jazz artists of the time. Some of his musical associates included Ray Brown, Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, Milt Jackson, Herb Ellis, Barney Kessel, Ed Thigpen, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, Louis Armstrong, Stéphane Grappelli, Ella Fitzgerald, Clark Terry, Joe Pass, Anita O'Day, Fred Astaire, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, and Stan Getz.

Peterson made numerous duo performances and recordings with bassists Ray Brown, Sam Jones, and Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, guitarists Joe Pass, Irving Ashby, Herb Ellis, and Barney Kessel, pianists Count Basie, Herbie Hancock, Bennie Green, and Keith Emerson, trumpeters Clark Terry and Louis Armstrong, and many other important jazz players. His 1950s duo recordings with bassist Ray Brown mark the formation of one of the longest lasting partnerships in the history of jazz. Peterson's 1970's duo with guitarist Joe Pass has been considered one of the highest standards in the genre.

According to pianist/educator Mark Eisenman, some of Peterson's best playing was as an understated accompanist to singer Ella Fitzgerald and trumpeter Roy Eldridge.

Peterson redefined the jazz trio by bringing musicianship of all three members to the highest level. The definitive trio with Ray Brown and Herb Ellis was, in his own words "the most stimulating" and productive setting for public performances as well as in studio recordings. In the early 1950s, Peterson began performing with Ray Brown and Charlie Smith as the Oscar Peterson Trio. Shortly afterward the drummer Smith was replaced by guitarist Irving Ashby, formerly of the Nat King Cole Trio. Ashby, who was a swing guitarist, was soon replaced by Barney Kessel. Kessel tired of touring after a year, and was succeeded by Herb Ellis. As Ellis was white, Peterson's trios were racially integrated, a controversial move at the time that was fraught with difficulties with segregationist whites and blacks.

In the 1970s Peterson formed another landmark trio with virtuoso guitarist Joe Pass and Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen on bass. This trio emulated the success of the 1950s trio with Brown and Ellis, gave acclaimed performances at numerous festivals, and made best-selling recordings, most notably the 1978 double album recorded live in Paris. In 1974 Oscar added British drummer, Martin Drew, and this quartet toured and recorded extensively worldwide.

A quartet was a less permanent setting for Peterson, after the trio or duo, as it was hard to find equally powerful musicians available for a tightly knit arrangement with him. After the loss of Ellis his next trio eventually turned into a quartet after he added a drummer — first Gene Gammage for a brief time, then Ed Thigpen. In this group Peterson became the dominant soloist. Later members of the group were Louis Hayes, Bobby Durham, Ray Price, Sam Jones, George Mraz and Martin Drew.

Peterson often formed a quartet by adding a fourth player to his existing trios. He was open to experimental collaborations with jazz stars, such as saxophonist Ben Webster, trumpeter Clark Terry, and vibraphonist Milt Jackson among others. In 1961, the Peterson trio with Jackson recorded a highly praised album, Very Tall.

From the late 1950s, when Peterson gained worldwide recognition as one of the leading pianists in jazz, he played in a variety of settings: solo, duo, trio, quartet, small bands, and big bands. However, his solo piano recitals, as well as his solo piano recordings were rare, until he chose to make a series of solo albums titled "Exclusively for my friends." These solo piano sessions, made for the Musik Produktion Schwarzwald (MPS) label, were Peterson's response to the emergence of such stars as Bill Evans and McCoy Tyner.

Some cognoscenti assert that Peterson's best recordings were made for MPS in the late 1960s and early 1970s. For some years subsequently he recorded for Granz's Pablo Records after the label was founded in 1973. In the 1990s and 2000s he recorded several albums accompanied by a combo for Telarc.

In the 1980s he played successfully in a duo with pianist Herbie Hancock. In the late 1980s and 1990s, after the stroke, Peterson made performances and recordings with his protégé Benny Green.

Peterson wrote pieces for piano, for trio, for quartet and for big band. He also wrote several songs, and made recordings as a singer. Probably his best-known compositions are "Canadiana Suite" and "Hymn to Freedom," the latter composed in the 1960s and inspired by the U.S. civil rights movement.

Peterson taught piano and improvisation in Canada, mainly in Toronto. With associates, he started and headed the Advanced School of Contemporary Music in Toronto for five years during the 1960s, but it closed because concert touring called him and his associates away, and it did not have government funding. Later, he mentored the York University jazz program and was the Chancellor of the entire university for several years in the early 1990s. He also published his original jazz piano etudes for practice. However, he asked his students to study the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, especially the Well Tempered Clavier, the Goldberg Variations, and the The Art of Fugue, considering these piano pieces essential for every serious pianist. Pianists Benny Green and Oliver Jones were among his students.

Peterson had arthritis since his youth, and in later years could hardly button his shirt. Never slender, his weight increased to 125 kg (275 pounds), hindering his mobility. He had hip replacement surgery in the early 1990s. Although the surgery was successful, his mobility still was not good. Somewhat later, in 1993, Peterson suffered a serious stroke that weakened his left side and sidelined him for two years. Also in 1993 incoming Prime Minister and longtime Peterson fan and friend Jean Chrétien offered Peterson the position of Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario, but according to Chrétien he declined, citing the health problems from his recent stroke.

After the stroke, Peterson recuperated for about two years. He gradually regained mobility and some control of his left hand. However, his virtuosity was never restored to the original level, and his playing after his stroke relied principally on his right hand. In 1995 he returned to public performances on a limited basis, and also made several live and studio recordings for Telarc. In 1997 he received a Grammy for Lifetime Achievement and an International Jazz Hall of Fame Award, another indication that Peterson continued to be regarded as one of the greatest jazz musicians ever to play. Canadian politician, friend, and amateur pianist Bob Rae contends that "a one-handed Oscar was better than just about anyone with two hands".

In 2003, Peterson recorded the DVD A Night in Vienna for Verve, with Niels Pedersen, Ulf Wakenius and Martin Drew. He continued to tour the U.S. and Europe, though maximally one month a year, with a couple of days' rest between concerts to recover his strength. His accompanists consisted of Ulf Wakenius (guitar), David Young (bass), and Alvin Queen (drums), all leaders of their own groups.

Peterson's health declined rapidly in 2007. He had to cancel his performance at the 2007 Toronto Jazz Festival and his attendance at a June 8, 2007 Carnegie Hall all-star performance in his honour, owing to illness. On 23 December 2007, Peterson died of renal failure at his home in Mississauga, Ontario. He left seven children, his fourth wife Kelly, and their daughter, Celine (born 1991).

Begone Dull Care is an abstract film presentation of Oscar's music, released in 1949.

His work earned him seven Grammy awards over the years and he was elected to the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1978. He also belongs to the Juno Awards Hall of Fame and the Canadian Jazz and Blues Hall of Fame.

Peterson received the Roy Thomson Award (1987), a Toronto Arts Award for lifetime achievement (1991), the Governor General's Performing Arts Award (1992), the Glenn Gould Prize (1993), the award of the International Society for Performing Artists (1995), the Loyola Medal of Concordia University (1997), the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (1997), the Praemium Imperiale World Art Award (1999), the UNESCO Music Prize (2000), the Toronto Musicians' Association Musician of the Year award (2001,)and an honorary LLD from the University of the West Indies (2006).

In 1999, Concordia University in Montreal renamed their Loyola-campus concert hall Oscar Peterson Concert Hall in his honour.

In 2005, Peterson celebrated his 80th birthday at the HMV flagship store in Toronto, where a crowd of about 200 gathered to celebrate with him. Long time admirer, and fellow Canadian Diana Krall, sang "Happy Birthday" to him and also performed a vocal version of one of Peterson's songs "When Summer Comes". The lyrics for this version were written by Elvis Costello, Krall's husband. Canada Post unveiled a commemorative postage stamp in his honour. The event was covered by a live radio broadcast by Toronto jazz station, JAZZ.FM.

Peterson received the BBC-Radio Lifetime Achievement Award, London, England.

While Peterson was recognized as a great jazz pianist both at home in Canada and internationally, he was also regarded in Canada as a distinguished public figure. His notable personage is evident in the acclaim and awards he received, particularly in the latter two decades of this life.

He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada (the country's highest civilian order for talent and service) in 1972, and promoted to Companion of the Order of Canada (the highest degree of merit and humanity), in 1984. He was also a member of the Order of Ontario, a Chevalier of the National Order of Quebec and an officer of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France.

From 1991 to 1994, Peterson was chancellor of York University in Toronto. The chancellor is the titular head of the university. Weeks after his death, the Province of Ontario announced a C$4 million scholarship for the "Oscar Peterson Chair" for Jazz Performance at York University with an additional C$1 million to be awarded annually in music scholarships to underprivileged York students in tribute to Peterson.

Peterson's niece, television journalist Sylvia Sweeney, produced an award-winning documentary film, In the Key of Oscar, about Peterson in 1992.

Unlike most other jazz musicians, Oscar Peterson was networked with Canadian elites in the later years of his life. For example, former Ontario premier Bob Rae recalled that in 2007, himself, Ontario Chief Justice Roy McMurtry, and former Ontario premier Bill Davis celebrated McMurtry's retirement with Peterson, his wife, and their wives.

Peterson received honorary doctorates from many Canadian universities: Carleton University, Queen's University, Concordia University, McMaster University, Mount Allison University, the University of Victoria, the University of Western Ontario, York University, the University of Toronto, and the Université Laval, as well as from Northwestern University in the United States.

In 2004, the City of Toronto named the courtyard of the Toronto-Dominion Centre "Oscar Peterson Square".

In 2005, the Peel District School Board in suburban Toronto opened the Oscar Peterson school in Mississauga, Ontario, two miles from his home. Peterson said, "This is a most unexpected and moving tribute." He visited the school several times and donated electronic musical equipment to it. Soon after Peterson's death, the University of Toronto Mississauga opened a major student residence in March 2008 as "Oscar Peterson Hall".

A major memorial concert, held on January 12, 2008, filled the 2500-seat Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto. People had queued for more than three hours to get in. Canadian Governor General Michaëlle Jean reported at the concert that "thousands" more could not get in. Among the performers were Grégory Charles, Herbie Hancock, Quincy Jones, Phil Nimmons and singers Audrey Morris and Nancy Wilson. The "Oscar Peterson" quartet played key pieces; they are Monty Alexander, Jeff Hamilton, Ulf Wakenius and Dave Young. All toured with Peterson during his late "one-handed" period" except Alexander. The Nathaniel Dett Chorale, University of Toronto Gospel Choir and Sharon Riley & the Faith Chorale, under the direction of Andrew Craid along with opera soprano Measha Brueggergosman closed the show, singing an excerpt from Peterson's "Hymn to Freedom". The show was made available for download.

A movement was begun on Facebook to rename the Lionel-Groulx Metro station, a transfer station between Montreal's Green Line and Orange Line, in honour of Oscar Peterson. The Montreal Transit Corporation, however, has refused to end its moratorium on renaming Metro stations. The city's policy on landmark tributes is to wait at least a year after a public figure's death.

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Charlie Parker

Highly distinctive "underslung" octave key on the Conn 6M "Lady Face" alto saxophone, a model that Parker is known to have used on multiple occasions.

Charles Parker, Jr. (August 29, 1920 – March 12, 1955) was an American jazz saxophonist and composer.

Parker played a leading role in the development of bebop, a form of jazz characterized by fast tempos, virtuosic technique, and improvisation based on harmonic structure. Parker's innovative approaches to melody, rhythm, and harmony exercised enormous influence on his contemporaries. Several of Parker's songs have become standards, including "Billie's Bounce", "Anthropology", "Ornithology", and "Confirmation". 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. Although many Parker recordings demonstrate dazzling virtuosic technique and complex melodic lines – such as "Koko", "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 also became 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. His style – from a rhythmic, harmonic and soloing perspective – influenced countless peers on every instrument. Like Louis Armstrong before him, Parker changed the sound of jazz music forever.

Charlie Parker was born in Kansas City, Kansas and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, the only child of Charles and Addie Parker. Charles, an alcoholic, was often absent. Parker attended Lincoln High School . He enrolled in September 1934 and withdrew in December 1935 about the time he joined the local Musicians Union.

Parker displayed no sign of musical talent as a child. His father presumably provided some musical influence; he was a pianist, dancer and singer on the T.O.B.A. circuit, although he later became a Pullman waiter or chef on the railways. His mother worked nights at the local Western Union. His biggest influence however was a young trombone player who taught him the basics of improvisation.

Parker began playing the saxophone at age 11 and at age 14 joined his school's band using a rented school instrument. One story holds that, without formal training, he was terrible, and thrown out of the band. Experiencing periodic setbacks of this sort, at one point he broke off from his constant practicing.

In early 1936, it has been stated that Parker participated in a 'cutting contest' that included Jo Jones on drums, who tossed a cymbal at Parker's feet in impatience with his playing. However, in the numerous interviews throughout his life, Jones made no mention of this incident. Exasperated and determined, in any case, at this time Parker improved the quality of practicing, learning the blues, "Cherokee" and "rhythm changes" in all twelve keys. In this wood-shedding period, Parker mastered improvisation and developed some of the ideas of be-bop. In an interview with Paul Desmond, he said he spent 3-4 years practicing up to 15 hours a day.. Rumor has it that he used to play many other tunes in all twelve keys. The story, though undocumented, would help to explain the fact that he often played in unconventional concert pitch key signatures, like E (which transposes to C# for the alto sax). Groups led by Count Basie and Bennie Moten were the leading Kansas City ensembles, and undoubtedly influenced Parker. He continued to play with local bands in jazz clubs around Kansas City, Missouri, where he perfected his technique with the assistance of Buster Smith, whose dynamic transitions to double and triple time certainly influenced Parker's developing style.

In 1938, Parker joined pianist Jay McShann's territory band. The band toured nightclubs and other venues of the southwest, as well as Chicago and New York City. Parker made his professional recording debut with McShann's band. It was said at one point in McShann's band that he "sounded like a machine", owing to his virtuosity without implying a lack of musicality.

As a teenager, Parker developed a morphine addiction while in hospital after an automobile accident, and subsequently became addicted to heroin. Heroin would haunt him throughout his life and ultimately contribute to his death.

In 1939, Parker moved to New York City. There he pursued a career in music, but held several other jobs as well. He worked for $9 a week as a dishwasher at Jimmie's Chicken Shack where pianist Art Tatum performed. Parker's later style in some ways recalled Tatum's, with dazzling, high-speed arpeggios and sophisticated use of harmony.

In 1942 Parker left McShann's band and played with Earl Hines for one year. Also in the band was trumpet player Dizzy Gillespie, which is where the soon to be famous duo met for the first time. Unfortunately, this period is virtually undocumented because of the strike of 1942-1943 by the American Federation of Musicians, during which no official recordings were made. Nevertheless we know that Parker joined a group of young musicians in after-hours clubs in Harlem such as Clark Monroe's Uptown House and (to a much lesser extent) Minton's Playhouse. These young iconoclasts included Gillespie, pianist Thelonious Monk, guitarist Charlie Christian, and drummer Kenny Clarke. The beboppers' attitude was summed up in a famous quotation attributed to Monk by Mary Lou Williams: "We wanted a music that they couldn't play" – "they" being the (white) bandleaders who had taken over and profited from swing music. The group played in venues on 52nd Street including the Three Deuces and The Onyx. In his time in New York City, Parker also learned much from notable music teacher Maury Deutsch.

According to an interview Parker gave in the 1950s: one night in 1939, he was playing "Cherokee" in a jam session with guitarist William 'Biddy' Fleet when he hit upon a method for developing his solos that enabled him to play what he had been hearing in his head for some time, by building on the chords' extended intervals, such as ninths, elevenths, and thirteenths. Still with McShann's orchestra, Parker at this time realized that the twelve tones of the chromatic scale can each be quickly led melodically to any key, breaking some of the confines of simpler jazz soloing.

Early in its development, this new type of jazz was rejected and disdained by many older, more established, traditional jazz musicians, who disdained their younger counterparts with comments such as "They flat their fifths; we drink ours." The beboppers, in response, called these traditionalists "moldy figs". However, some musicians, such as Coleman Hawkins and Benny Goodman, were more positive about its development, and participated in jam sessions and recording dates with the new approach.

Because of the 2-year Musicians' Union recording ban on all commercial recordings from 1942-1944 (part of a struggle to get royalties from record sales for a union fund for out-of-work musicians), much of bebop's early development was not captured for posterity; as a result, the new musical concepts pioneered by the likes of Parker, Gillespie, Monk, Powell and others could not receive national or international attention other than by limited radio exposure. Bebop musicians had a difficult time gaining widespread recognition. It was not until 1945, when the recording ban was lifted, that Parker's collaborations with Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, Bud Powell and others had a substantial effect on the jazz world. One of their first (and greatest) small-group performances together was rediscovered and issued in 2005: a concert in New York's Town Hall on June 22, 1945. Bebop began to grab hold and gain wider appeal among musicians and fans alike.

On November 26, 1945 Parker led a record date for the Savoy label, marketed as the "greatest Jazz session ever." The tracks recorded during this session include "Koko" (based on the chords of "Cherokee"), "Now's the Time" (a twelve bar blues incorporating a riff later used in the late 1949 R&B dance hit "The Hucklebuck"), "Billie's Bounce", and "Thriving on a Riff".

Shortly afterwards, the Parker/Gillespie band traveled to an unsuccessful engagement at Billy Berg's club in Los Angeles. Most of the band 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 Hospital for a six month period (see details below).

Parker's addiction to heroin, which began in his late teens, caused him to miss gigs and to be fired for being high. To satisfy his habit, he frequently resorted to busking on the streets for drug money, receiving loans from fellow musicians/admirers, pawning his own horn and borrowing other sax players' instruments as a result. Parker's situation was typical of the strong connection between narcotics and jazz at the time.

Although he produced many brilliant recordings during this period, Parker's behavior became increasingly erratic due to his habit. Heroin was difficult to obtain after his dealer was arrested, and Parker began to drink heavily to compensate for this. A recording for the Dial label from July 29, 1946 provides evidence of his condition. Prior to this session, Parker drank about 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, going badly off mic. On the next tune, "Lover Man", producer Ross Russell physically supported Parker in front of the microphone. On the final track Parker recorded that evening, he begins a solo with a solid first eight bars. On his second eight bars, however, Parker begins to struggle, and a desperate Howard McGhee, the trumpeter on this session, shouts, "Blow!" at Parker. McGhee's bellow is audible on the recording. Some, including Charles Mingus, consider this version of "Lover Man" to be among his greater recordings despite its flaws. Nevertheless, Parker hated the recording and never forgave Ross Russell for releasing the sub-par performance (and re-recorded the tune in 1953 for Verve, this time in stellar form, but perhaps lacking some of the passionate emotion in the earlier, problematic attempt).

The night of the "Lover Man" session, Parker was drinking in his hotel room. He went down to the hotel lobby stark naked and asked to use the phone, several times. He was refused on each attempt and the hotel manager eventually locked him in his room. At some point during the night, he set fire to his mattress with a cigarette, then ran through the hotel lobby wearing only his socks. He was arrested and committed to Camarillo State Mental Hospital, where he remained for six months.

Coming out of the hospital, Parker was initially clean and healthy, and proceeded to do some of the best playing and recording of his career. Before leaving California, he recorded "Relaxin' at Camarillo", in reference to his hospital stay. He returned to New York – and his addiction – and recorded dozens of sides for the Savoy and Dial labels that remain some of the high points of his recorded output. Many of these were with his so-called "classic quintet" that included trumpeter Miles Davis and drummer Max Roach. The highlights of these sessions include a series of slower-tempo performances of American popular songs including "Embraceable You" and "Bird of Paradise" (based on "All the Things You Are").

One of Parker's longstanding desires was to perform with a string section as he was a keen student of classical music. Contemporaries reported that 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 Music;" 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, 1949, Norman Granz arranged for Parker to record an album of ballads with a mixed group of jazz and chamber orchestra musicians. The players were Parker on alto saxophone; Mitch Miller on oboe and English horn; Bronislav Gimpel, Max Hollander, and Milton Lamask on violin; Frank Brieff on viola; Frank Miller on cello; Meyer Rosen on harp; Stan Freeman on piano; Ray Brown on bass; Buddy Rich on drums; and Jimmy Carroll as arranger and conductor. Six master takes from this session comprised the album Bird With Strings: "Just Friends", "Everything Happens to Me", "April in Paris", "Summertime", "I Didn't Know What Time It Was", and "If I Should Lose You." The sound of these recordings is unique in Parker's catalog. The lush string arrangements recall Tchaikovsky in their dramatic sweep, and the rhythm section provides a delicate swing under Parker's improvisation, blending perfectly with the orchestra. Parker's improvisations are, relative to his usual work, more distilled and economical. His tone is darker and softer than on his small-group recordings, and the majority of his lines are beautiful embellishments on the original melodies rather than harmonically based improvisations. He is always tasteful and brimming with eloquent expression. These are among the few recordings Parker made during a brief period when he was able to control his heroin habit, and his sobriety and clarity of mind are evident in his playing. Parker stated that, of his own records, Bird With Strings was his favorite. While using classical music instrumentation with jazz musicians was not entirely original, this was the first major work where a composer of bebop was matched with a string orchestra.

Some fans thought it was a "sell out" and a pandering to popular tastes. Time demonstrated Parker's move a wise one: Charlie Parker with Strings sold better than his other releases, and his version of "Just Friends" is seen as one of his best performances. In an interview, he considered it to be his best recording to that date.

By 1950, much of the jazz world had fallen under Parker's influence. Many musicians transcribed and copied his solos. Legions of saxophonists imitated his playing note-for-note. In response to these pretenders, Parker's admirer, the bass player Charles Mingus, titled a tune "Gunslinging Bird" (meaning "If Charlie Parker were a gunslinger, there would be a whole lot of dead copycats") featured on the album Mingus Dynasty. In this regard, he is perhaps only comparable to Louis Armstrong: both men set the standard for their instruments for decades, and few escaped their influence.

In 1953, Parker performed at Massey Hall in Toronto, Canada, joined by Gillespie, Mingus, Bud Powell and Max Roach. Unfortunately, the concert clashed with a televised heavyweight boxing match between Rocky Marciano and Jersey Joe Walcott and as a result was poorly attended. Thankfully, Mingus recorded the concert, and the album Jazz at Massey Hall is often cited as one of the finest recordings of a live jazz performance, with the saxophonist credited as "Charley Chan" for contractual reasons.

At this concert, he played a plastic Grafton saxophone (serial number 10265); later, saxophonist Ornette Coleman used this brand of plastic sax in his early career. Parker had sold his alto saxophone to buy drugs, and at the last minute, he, Dizzy Gillespie and other members of Charlie's entourage went running around Toronto trying to find Parker a saxophone. After scouring all the downtown pawnshops open at the time, they were only able to find a Grafton, which Parker proceeded to use at the concert that night.

Parker was known for often showing up to performances without an instrument and borrowing someone else's at the last moment. There are various photos which show him playing a Conn 6M saxophone, a high quality instrument which was noted for having a very fast action and a unique "underslung" octave key. Some of the photographs showing Parker with a Conn 6M were taken on separate occasions because Parker can be seen wearing different clothing and there are different backgrounds. However, other photos exist which show Parker holding alto saxophones with a more conventional octave key arrangement, i.e. mounted above the crook of the saxophone e.g. the Martin Handicraft and Selmer Model 22 saxophones, amongst others. Parker is also known to have performed with a King 'Super 20' saxophone, with a semi-underslung octave key which bears some resemblance to those fitted on modern Yanagisawa instruments. Parker's King Super 20 saxophone was made specially for him in 1947.

Parker died in his friend and patron Nica de Koenigswarter's Stanhope Hotel suite while watching Tommy Dorsey on television. . Though the official causes of death were lobar pneumonia and a bleeding ulcer, Parker's demise was undoubtedly hastened by his drug and alcohol abuse. The coroner who performed his autopsy mistakenly estimated Parker's 34-year-old body to be between 50 and 60 years of age.

It was well known that Parker never wanted to return to Kansas City, even in death. Parker had told his common-law wife, Chan, that he didn’t want to be buried in the city of his birth; that New York was his home and he didn’t want any fuss or memorials when he died. At the time of his death, though, he hadn’t divorced his previous wife Doris, nor had he officially married Chan, which left Parker in the rather awkward post-mortem situation of having two widows, a scenario which muddied the issue of next of kin and would ultimately serve to frustrate his wish to be quietly interred in his adopted hometown. Dizzy Gillespie was able to co-opt the funeral arrangements that Chan had been putting together and coordinated a ‘lying-in-state,’ a Harlem procession officiated by Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., and a memorial concert before flying Parker's body back to Missouri to be buried there per his mother's wishes. Parker was buried at Lincoln Cemetery in Kansas City, Missouri.

Charlie Parker was survived by his widows Doris Parker and Chan Parker; a stepdaughter, Kim Parker, who is also a musician; and a son, Baird Parker; their later lives are chronicled in Chan Parker's autobiography, My Life in E Flat.

Parker's style of composition involved interpolation of original melodies over pre-existing jazz forms and standards, a practice still common in jazz today. Examples include "Ornithology" ("How High The Moon"), "Yardbird Suite" ("What Price Love") and "Donna Lee" (Indiana). The practice was not uncommon prior to bebop; however, it became a signature of the movement as artists began to move away from arranging popular standards and began to compose their own material .

While tunes such as "Now's The Time", "Billie's Bounce", and "Cool Blues" were based on conventional 12-bar blues changes, Parker also created a unique version of the 12-bar blues for his tune "Blues for Alice". These unique chords are known popularly as "Bird Changes". Like his solos, some of his compositions are characterised by long, complex melodic lines and a minimum of repetition although he did employ the use of repetitive (yet relatively rhythmically complex) motifs in many other tunes as well, most notably "Now's The Time".

Parker also contributed a vast rhythmic vocabulary to the modern jazz solo, one in which triplets and pick-up notes were used in (then) unorthodox ways to lead into chord tones, affording the soloist with more freedom to use passing tones which soloists would have previously avoided. Within this context, Parker was admired for his unique style of phrasing and innovative use of rhythm. Via his recordings and the popularity of the posthumously published "Charlie Parker Omnibook", Parker's uniquely identifiable vocabulary of "licks" and "riffs" dominated jazz for many years to come. Today his concepts and ideas are transcribed, studied, and analyzed by a great deal of jazz students and are part of any player's basic jazz vocabulary.

Special mention should be made of the legendary Dean Benedetti recordings, a huge trove of live material recorded by an obsessive fan. Long thought lost or merely mythical, these eventually resurfaced and were released as a set by Mosaic Records.

In 2002, the Library of Congress honored his recording "Koko" (1945) by adding it to the National Recording Registry.

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Source : Wikipedia