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, titledCharlie Parker's Yardbirdthat the Philadelphia Inquirer's David Patrick Stearns reports will bring many unexpected things to the Perelman Theater at its 2015 premiere.
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.