Charlie Parker celebration to kick off at 18th and Vine - KCTV5

Charlie Parker celebration to kick off at 18th and Vine

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Charlie "Bird" Parker Charlie "Bird" Parker

Bird lovers will flock to the historic Jazz District later this week, but they won't be bringing their binoculars. Instead, jazz aficionados will be celebrating the life of one of America's greatest musical artists.

The second annual Charlie "Bird" Parker celebration kicks off Thursday night at The American Jazz Museum in the historic 18th and Vine Jazz District. The celebration, which continues through Aug. 29, seeks to explore and recognize the brilliance and legacy of Parker.

Born Aug. 29, 1920, in Kansas City, KS, Parker was one of this country's most important and influential saxophonists.

Parker moved to Kansas City, MO in 1927. At that time, jazz was king and Kansas City was one of the most important jazz destinations in the country. 

More than just a jazz portal, Kansas City was also one of the linchpins for the new musical improvisation style of bebop, of which Parker became a master.

The celebration includes some new elements sprinkled in with some of the popular events from the inaugural event, including the jazz history tour and gravesite musical salute on what would have been Parker's 95th birthday. 

New elements this year include:

  • Artist-in-residence: Acclaimed trumpeter, esteemed professor and jazz recording artist Clay Jenkins will participate throughout the 10-day celebration.  
  • Bird: An exhibition curated by Jess Rezac and Rachel Marshall. An extension of the Charlie Parker permanent exhibition at the museum, showcasing rare Parker artifacts on loan from the Norman R. Saks Collection and UMKC Marr Sound Archives.
  • The Elders Speak: Two of the last surviving friends of Charlie Parker will share fantastic stories in what is being billed as "We Remember Bird."
  • “I Gotta Solo”: Jazz improvisation clinic & master class. Jenkins will take students through the key elements of building a powerful jazz improvisation solo. 

The celebration kicks off with a roundtable discussion exploring Parker’s influence on musical and scholarly output in today’s environment. The event starts at 6 p.m. and is free to the public.

Panelists include Scott DeVeaux, a professor at the University of Virginia and author of The Birth of Bebop: A Social and Musical History, Jenkins, acclaimed trumpeter and recording artist and faculty member at the Eastman School of Music in New York and Chuck Haddix, local radio host and author of Bird: the Life and Music of Charlie Park and Kansas City Jazz: From Ragtime to BeBop.

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