Charles Parker, Jr. (August 29, 1920 – March 12, 1955) was an American jazz saxophonist and composer. Parker, with Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, is often considered one of the most influential of jazz musicians. Parker acquired the nickname "Yardbird" early in his career, and 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 "Birdfeathers", "Yardbird Suite" and "Ornithology."
"You've got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail." ~ Charlie Parker
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.¹
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