Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Children of the American bop night

The 12th of March happens to be both the day jazz innovator Charlie Parker died (in ´55) and the day beat writer and Parker fan Jack Kerouac was born (in ´22). Now I could go on and on here about Parker´s pioneering work on the saxophone, or analyse the way Kerouac´s prose style was influenced by bop rhythms, but that´s all been done before. So here´s a a fitting fragment from Kerouac´s magnum opus On The Road for you instead, followed by some of my fave Parker tunes, Kerouac reading some great prose, and Tom Waits and Willie Alexander paying homage to the father of beats. Go Jack, go.

"Once there was Louis Armstrong blowing his beautiful top in the muds of New Orleans; before him the mad musicians who had paraded on official days and broke up their Sousa marches into ragtime. Then there was swing, and Roy Eldridge, vigorous and virile, blasting the horn for everything it had in waves of power and logic and subtlety--leaning to it with glittering eyes and a lovely smile and sending it out broadcast to rock the jazz world. Then had come Charlie Parker, a kid in his mother's woodshed in Kansas City, blowing his taped-up alto among the logs, practicing on rainy days, coming out to watch the old swinging Basie and Benny Moten band that had Hot Lips Page and the rest - Charlie Parker leaving home and coming to Harlem, and meeting mad Thelonius Monk and madder Gillespie - Charlie Parker in his early days when he was flipped and walked around in a circle while playing. Somewhat younger than Lester Young, also from KC, that gloomy, saintly goof in whom the history of jazz was wrapped; for when he held his horn high and horizontal from his mouth he blew the greatest; and as his hair grew longer and he got lazier and stretched-out, his horn came down halfway; till it finally fell all the way and today as he wears his thick-soled shoes so that he can't feel the sidewalks of life his horn is held weakly against his chest, and he blows cool and easy getout phrases. Here were the children of the American bop night."

Charlie Parker - Yardbird Suite MP3
Charlie Parker - Parker´s Mood MP3
Charlie Parker - Confirmation MP3
Jack Kerouac - San Francisco Scene (The Beat Generation) MP3
Tom Waits - Jack & Neil/California, Here I Come MP3
Willie Alexander - Kerouac MP3

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