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Chasin' the bird : the life and legacy of Charlie Parker
Priestley, Brian
Adult Nonfiction ML419.P4 P72 2006

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Charlie ?Bird? Parker achieved nearly mythic status as a difficult person and heroin addict. And while Priestly?s book describes Parker?s tumultuous personal life and his lifelong struggle with addiction, its focus is on Bird?s music. The book contains a thorough investigation of Bird?s prodigious musical talent and his contributions to jazz and bebop. Priestly, a jazz pianist and co-author of The Rough Guide to Jazz, cautions readers that ?so much of Parker?s sound and style has entered the present-day language as to make the original seem old hat? before describing what made Bird a legend: his mastery of the alto sax, his brilliant improvisations and the speed with which he played. Priestly asserts that confusion about details of Parker?s life ?is a consequence of the fact that, during his brief career, entertainers generally?and especially African-American instrumentalists?were not extensively interviewed.? As a result, the book skimps on personal information and leans on speculation. It also scrutinizes his musical career to such an extent that the book can be tedious to readers with a casual interest in jazz. However, for a student or a serious Parker enthusiast, Priestly?s thorough documentation and analysis of Bird?s recordings and gigs, along with the 60 pages of included discography, will be quite a find. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

From Library Journal:

As one pillar upon which jazz was built, Charlie Parker (1920-55) deserves a comprehensive biography. The need is doubly important owing to the myths and misconceptions surrounding the saxophonist's life and career. Here, British jazz critic Priestley has updated and, more valuably, expanded his fine but rather brief Charlie Parker (1984), drawing on much new archival material that includes essential interviews located since the 1980s. The author has always shown a flair for cutting through the haze and cogently relaying crucial information, and he continues that habit here. The book's first quarter naturally covers Parker's earliest years, which for many may be a revelation; but the coverage of Parker's first hesitant forays into studio and stage performance-complete with analysis of creatively crafted solos, plus a fine section on recordings-and his premature death at 34 is the real cornerstone of this work. For newbies and seasoned listeners alike, an easy-to-decipher discography demonstrates Parker's breadth of recordings. Numerous Parker bios exist, mostly written from a fan's viewpoint and sometimes verging on hokiness; the only book that compares with Priestly's is Carl Woideck's Charlie Parker. Recommended for all libraries with music holdings, especially for jazz.-William G. Kenz, Minnesota State Univ. Lib., Moorhead (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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