Charlie Parker- The Rise of Bebop

Jazz is one of the world’s biggest music genres, recognized by people all over the world. You hear it in different restaurants including five star restaurants, hotels, and coffee shops. Jazz is also known as “black classical music,” that many black people enjoy to listen to, being able to connect with their culture and roots. There are many different styles of Jazz including Cool Jazz, Free Jazz, Swing, Fusion Jazz, and many more. However, Bebop is a style that can become stuck in your head because it has such a unique sound to it. So, how did Charlie Parker create this style, making it one of the biggest styles in Jazz? 

Born for Jazz

At a young age, Charlie knew that he had a passion for music, especially instruments that are often played in Jazz bands and in solos. Charlie attending music lessons in school, where he was later introduced to the alto saxophone at the age of 15, which became his favorite musical instrument. Charlie also began to play in a band while attending school, and this became something that was so important to him, that he later dropped out of school to pursue music full time. You could say that this was the best decision he ever made because from 1935-1939, he started touring from Chicago to New York City, playing with some of the biggest names in Jazz including: Buster Professor Smith, and the pianist, Jay McShann. 

The Birth of Bebop

After learning he had a talent in creating his own style of music, creating a technique which would involve playing higher intervals of a chord and then backing them up by making changes to the melody, he was able to be discovered by musicians Gillespie and Thelonious Monk who thought he had the potential to become a big star as they enjoyed his style of Jazz. Well, Charlie did indeed become a star in 1945 when he reached his peak in music maturity later pairing up with Dizzy Gillespie performing at a six-week nightclub in Hollywood that would leave everyone speechless. What came from constantly performing in this nightclub was developing a new style of music known as “bebop.” 

Becoming a Music Sensation

Shortly after creating this very unforgettable style of music, Charlie’s music career took off tremendously where he signed with a couple different record labels, creating more and more music that people all around were able to enjoy. During the years 1945-1948, Parker recorded for Dial and Savoy Records where he later signed with the record label, Mercury. From there, it was history. Parker was able to perform in the International Jazz Festival in Paris while his original band, The Birdland Club in New York City where he got his start, was honoring him for all of his successful work. 

Career Tragically Cut Short

Charlie was a musician who made listeners feel connected and relaxed to his music, and they always wanted more of it. Unfortunately, his listeners weren’t able to hear more of his new music after his life was tragically cut short due to ongoing heroin and alcohol abuse after his music career went downhill when he was caught with heroin possession by police and was arrested. Charlie also lost the privilege to perform in New York City nightclubs when he got his cabaret card taken away after his arrest. Although he was able to earn his card back, people and club owners already knew his struggles with addiction and arrests, that it wasn’t so easy for him to earn his way back to the top. Leaving him without his escape through music and his passion, he decided to try to commit suicide in 1954 twice, but lived through it. In 1955, while visiting a friend, Parker suffered an ulcer attack and refused to get treatment from the hospital, which led to his death. His music touched many people and he used his personality through his instruments, and that is what made him loved and special. Charlie’s music is still listened to today and it is obvious that he had an impact in Jazz, being able to give this music style a twist that will always be remembered

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