This week I was looking at the list of people I had featured and something stood out to me…with one exception the list is exclusively white. Admittedly, due to past racism (and still current, unfortunately) the community of African decent is very much based in religion…both Christian (Rev Jesse Jackson, Martin Luther King) and Islamic (Malcolm X) leaders are well known through history and one must only look at what happens after a touchdown in American football to see how entrenched religion still is in that community.
Thus, challenged myself to look specifically for colour this week. There were a couple of pretty obvious selections I could have made, and will make in the future, but I could not help choosing a man who comes also from a realm that I am passionate about now…jazz. Charlie Parker was a smooth saxophone soloist and a jazz legend from the late 1930s and 1940s who garnered the nickname “Yardbird”. He was also given the reference of the Mozart of Jazz by a prominent New York jazz critic.
Don’t play the saxophone. Let it play you.
They teach you there’s a boundary line to music. But, man, there’s no boundary line to art.He began playing at the age of 11. He was born in Kansas City and an only child. His final public appearance was in New York City on March 4, 1955…he died eight days later. After his passing, his widow criticized his family for giving him a Christian funeral even though they knew “he was irreligious”. There is also controversy in that his body was laid to rest, on his mother’s wishes, in Kansas City even though Charles himself said he did not want to go back and that his home was New York City.
The man fought through a chronic heroine addiction to create some of classic sounds that still get air play on jazz stations and at jazz clubs today.