Charlie Parker

In Opera Philadelphia's Charlie Parker’s YARDBIRD, composer Daniel Schnyder illuminates the life of the groundbreaking jazz saxophonist. But, as WRTI’s Kile Smith reports, while the music is all original, the composer couldn’t help slipping in just a taste of Parker for the opera’s lead tenor, Lawrence Brownlee.
 

What composer Daniel Schnyder did not want to write in his opera about the great Charlie Parker was warmed-over bebop. His opera, Charlie Parker’s YARDBIRD, is original through and through.

A new opera tells the compelling story of an American jazz icon in a way that broadens and diversifies opera’s audience. Opera Philadelphia is in the midst of preparing for the world premiere of Charlie Parker’s YARDBIRD.  The role of Parker was composed by Daniel Schnyder with tenor Lawrence Brownlee in mind.

In that bygone era when radio was king, the drama known as The Shadow was one of the best. The dulcet voice of the announcer preceded each program with the question, “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?” He then finished off the quiz with a sardonic laugh, and the clincher, “The Shadow knows.”

In the early 1980s, when a young sixth-grader in Colorado first heard Charlie Parker, his life was transformed. Now a world-class saxophonist, Rudresh Mahanthappa is paying homage to Parker with his new album, Bird Calls. Mahanthappa says it's a tribute to Charlie Parker — but there are no Charlie Parker songs here.

Whenever Charlie Parker played a solo, you knew you'd feel good by the end. Opera Philadelphia is jumping off an even higher dive - an opera about the celebrated saxophonist, titled Charlie Parker's Yardbird that the Philadelphia Inquirer's David Patrick Stearns reports will bring many unexpected things to the Perelman Theater at its 2015 premiere. 

Whenever Charlie Parker played a solo, you knew you'd feel good by the end. Opera Philadelphia is jumping off an even higher dive - an opera about the celebrated saxophonist, titled Charlie Parker's Yardbird that the Philadelphia Inquirer's David Patrick Stearns reports will bring many unexpected things to the Perelman Theater at its 2015 premiere. 

ICON: The Jazz Scene

Jan 24, 2014

ORGAN-IZING: In keeping with Philadelphia’s contribution to jazz through the years, it must be mentioned that the city and surrounding areas are also known for producing some of the finest jazz organ players in history. The most famous of them all, Jimmy Smith, was born in Norristown. Joey DeFrancesco, a native Philadelphian, helped put the Hammond B-3 organ back on the map. And who can forget area natives like Richard “Groove” Holmes and Trudy Pitts? Organist Dan Fogel has been at it for a long time, despite trends and ups and downs in jazz organ popularity.

Charlie "Bird" Parker was one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. In his brief life, Parker created a new sound on the alto saxophone and spearheaded a revolution in harmony and improvisation that pushed popular music from the swing era to bebop and modern jazz.

Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie have been credited with changing the face of jazz in the mid 1940s. They kicked it up a notch, and ushered in an era known as "modern jazz" - which some dubbed "bebop."


Amazingly, Parker was only widely known for about a decade before he died in 1955 at the age of 34. He accomplished great fame while living a self-destructive lifestyle, which included frequent use of controlled substances and consumption of hard liquor. But despite living on the edge, his genius shined through.