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Charlie Parker

@ National Portrait Gallery


Born Kansas City, KansasSaxophonist Charlie “Bird” Parker was a pioneer of mid-twentieth-century jazz and later the bebop movement. Even as a youngster Parker devoted many hours daily to practicing the saxophone and participated in jam sessions in Kansas City, Missouri’s, popular nightclubs along Twelfth Street. By 1935 he had become a full-time musician and started developing an improvisational style that was instrumental in transforming jazz. Parker’s deconstruction of traditional melodies allowed him to accelerate and lengthen the individual lines of his solos. His musical experimentation and mastery made him a sought-after performer across the United States and Europe, including France, Spain, and Sweden.Photojournalist Dennis Stock captured this portrait of Parker during a 1950 jam session. The photograph was published in Stock’s Jazz Street (1960), five years after Parker succumbed to the effects of drug and alcohol abuse at the age of thirty-four.Nacido en Kansas City, KansasEl saxofonista Charlie “Bird” Parker fue un pionero del jazz y luego del bebop a mediados del siglo XX. Siendo aún adolescente, dedicaba largas horas al saxofón y participaba en sesiones de improvisación (jams) en los populares clubes nocturnos de la Calle 12 en Kansas City, Missouri. Hacia 1935 ya era músico a tiempo completo y empezó a desarrollar un estilo de improvisación que resultaría crucial para la transformación del jazz. Deconstruyendo las melodías tradicionales, lograba acelerar y extender las líneas de sus solos. Su espíritu experimental y maestría musical lo convirtieron en figura cotizada en Estados Unidos y en Europa, sobre todo Francia, España...
Gelatin Silver Print
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National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
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National Portrait Gallery

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Smithsonian Institution