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Celebrating KC's Own Charlie Parker


The UMKC Libraries are celebrating the 100th birthday of Kansas City native, and jazz saxophone legend Charlie “Bird” Parker. The Godfather of Bebop Jazz, Parker’s contributions to the music scene and Kansas City culture are being explored and celebrated by the American Jazz Museum, a KCPT documentary, and the involvement of our very own Marr Sound Archives and Chuck Haddix! Many thanks and congratulations to everyone at the Libraries in LaBudde Special Collections and the Marr Sound Archives who helped make this celebration happen. Here’s a look at the celebrations going on:

  • The documentary Bird: Not Out of Nowhere, premiered Aug. 29, 2020 on Kansas City PBS. The Marr Sound Archives provided archival photos, film, and audio for the project. Watch the trailer and stick around until the end for a cameo of Chuck Haddix, Curator of the Marr Sound Archives.
  • Haddix’s biography ‘Bird: The Life and Music of Charlie Parker' has been translated and published in Japan by Shinko Music and Entertainment.
  • “Born in Kansas City, Kansas, on April 29, 1920, Parker cut his musical teeth hanging out in the alleyways behind the nightclubs lining 12th Street in Kansas City, Missouri, where Count Basie, Lester Young, Mary Lou Williams and other jazz legends engaged in marathon jam sessions.” (From Chuck Haddix’s Flatland article).
  • The exhibit, "Saxophone Supreme: The Life and Music of Charlie Parker," which was co-curated by the American Jazz Museum and Chuck Haddix, designed by Sean McCue, in collaboration with LaBudde Special Collections and Marr Sound Archives, will be on display at the American Jazz Museum until December 31, 2020. A digital exhibit by the American Jazz Museum coming soon as well!
  • "In 1936, Parker sat in at a jam session at the legendary Reno Club and musically faltered while soloing on “Honeysuckle Rose.”  Drummer Jo Jones showed his displeasure by tossing his cymbal at Parker’s feet. After being laughed off the stage, Parker vowed to never be caught off guard at a jam session again.  He spent the next summer playing at a resort in the Lake of the Ozarks, 150 miles southeast of Kansas City.  In his off hours, Parker practiced diligently, learning all the chord changes and inversions.  By all reports, he returned to Kansas City a musically changed man.” (From Chuck Haddix’s Flatland article).
  • Images from LaBudde Special Collections were used, and Chuck was interviewed, for the article One Hundred Years of Bird: Kansas City Celebrates Charlie Parker Centennial for the 1st edition of Jackson County Historical Society's E-Journal.
  • Chuck was interviewed in How Charlie Parker Changed Jazz Forever for the PBS program "Sound Field".
  • “Bursting with fresh ideas and virtuosity, Parker’s solos and compositions have inspired musicians and composers across a broad spectrum of music, ranging from Moondog, a contemporary composer and street musician, to the rock group the Red Hot Chili Peppers.” (From Chuck Haddix’s Flatland article. He wrote the article KC Celebrates Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker on the Centennial of His Birth for the Flatland website.)
  • Join UMKC and Kansas City in celebrating the life and music of Charlie Parker!

Posted: September 16, 2020