Parker, Charles "Charlie" "Bird"
In ninth grade, Parker joined the marching band at Lincoln High, then under the leadership of Alonzo Lewis. He became obsessed with music and practiced diligently. Parker joined a group fronted by Lawrence Keyes.
Parker was not "musically proficient" at this time, but that didn't discourage him from attempting to participate in Kaycee's legendary jam sessions. In the Spring of 1936, Charlie sat in on a jam session conducted by Jo Jones. He faltered musically and Jones showed his displeasure by throwing his cymbal at Charlie's feet. Parker was humiliated and vowed to return.
The following summer Parker played an extended engagement with a band at a resort in Eldon, Missouri. Bird did a considerable amount of woodshedding during this period and returned to Kansas City a musically changed man.
In 1938, Bird joined a small "jump" band led by Jay McShann at Martin's on the Plaza. Bird moved to New York briefly in 1939. In December, while experimenting with different changes on "Cherokee" during a jam session at a chicken shack in Harlem, Bird discovered a fresh approach to improvision that would later lead to bebop.
Bird joined the McShann big band in 1940. Recorded in 1941, "Hootie Blues," featured Bird's first recorded solo on a commercial recording. His twelve bar solo proved to be a landmark in jazz history that electrified the musicians who heard it.
In January of 1942, the McShann band opened at the Savoy Ballroom, the "Home of Happy Feet." The evening's show-stopper was Bird's solo on his favorite tune, "Cherokee." The dancers at the Savoy cavorted with wild abandon while Bird pulled trick after trick out of his musical hat.
Bird left the McShann Band in New York, during the Summer of 1942, a fully developed composer and musician. He went on to found the bebop revolution, creating many compositions which became be bop standards including "Yardbird Suite"
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