Charlie Parker (1920-2020) – The Charlie Parker Centennial

Charlie Parker in 1947, in New York City (Photo: William C. Gottlieb/Library of Congress)

It’s Charlie Parker‘s Centennial today.  We recommend (as always) that you tune in your radio to WKCR for the Charlie Parker birthday-broadcast, continuing today (The Charlie Parker Centennial Festival)

“Commencing at midnight August 29th and concluding at midnight September 3rd, WKCR-FM (89.9 FM, will present the Charlie Parker Centennial Festival, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of a colossal figure in American music with a 120-hour marathon broadcast.”

“The Festival will air 24 hours a day, and will showcase the majority of the saxophonist’s extensive discography, including both commercially issued material and rarities. Beginning each day with a potpourri of studio recordings and concerts, (it) will primarily consist of thematic segments, including surveys of Parker records issued on the Savoy, Dial, and Verve labels and deep focuses into his early years, broadcast appearances, and essential collaborations with trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie.”

“Following the Festival, (on Thursday, September 3rd),WKCR will present Beyond Bird , a 24-hour celebration (midnight to midnight) of Charlie Parker’s continuing impact on the world of music, art, and poetry.”

For more on the on-going (year-round) Parker Centennial celebrations (“Bird 100”) – see  here, and (choice selections) here 

Here’s Jack Kerouac with his glorious hommage  (from Mexico City Blues –  the 239th, 240th and 241st Chorus) :

“Charley Parker Looked like Buddha/ Charley Parker who recently died/ Laughing at a juggler on TV,/ after weeks of strain and sickness,/ was called the Perfect Musician./ And his expression on his face/ Was as calm, beautiful and profound/ As the image of the Buddha/ Represented in the East, the lidded eyes,/ The expression that says “All is well”./ This was what Charley Parker/ Said when he played, All is Well./ You had the feeling of early-in-the-morning/ Like a hermit’s joy, or like/ the perfect cry/ Of some wild gang at a jam session,/ “Wail, Wop” – Charley burst/ His lungs to reach the speed/ of what the speedsters wanted/ And what they wanted/ Was his Eternal Slowdown./ A great musician and a great/ creator of forms/ That ultimately find expression/ In mores and what have you.

Musically as important as Beethoven,/ Yet not regarded as such at all,/ A genteel conductor of string/ orchestras/ In front of which he stood,/ Proud and calm, like a leader/of music
In the great historic World Night,/ And wailed his little saxophone,/ The alto, with piercing,/  clear/ lament/ In perfect tune & shining harmony,/ Toot! – As listeners reacted/ Without showing it, and began talking./ And soon the whole joint is rocking and talking./ And everybody talking – And Charley/ Parker whistling them on to the brink of eternity/ with his Irish St. Patrick/ patootle stick,/ And like the holy piss we blop/ And we plop in the waters of
slaughter/ And white meat, and die/ One after one, in Time.
And how sweet a story it is/ when you hear Charley Parker/ tell it,/ Either on records or at sessions,/ Or at official bits in clubs,/ Shots in the arm for the wallet,/ Gleefully he Whistled the/ perfect/ horn,
Anyhow made no difference
Charlie Parker, forgive me -/ Forgive me for not answering your eyes – For not having made an indication/ Of that which you can devise -/ Charlie Parker, pray for me./ Pray for me and everybody/ In the Nirvanas of your brain/ Where you hide, indulgent and huge,/ No longer Charley Parker/ But the secret unsayable name/ That carries with it merit/ Not to be-measured from here/ To up, down, east, or west -/ – Charley Parker, lay the bane./ off me, and every body.”

Previous Charlie Parker birthday postings on The Allen Ginsberg Project can be found here,  here, here, and here

Happy 100th Birthday, Charlie Parker!

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