How Kansas City Shaped Charlie Parker (And An Events Guide To The 2015 Charlie Parker Celebration)

Aug 20, 2015

Charlie Parker Memorial, 17th Terrace and Paseo.
Credit Kelly/Flickr -- CC

Charlie Parker was one of the most influential musicians to come out of Kansas City. But how did Kansas City shape him?

“He’s definitely a Kansas City person,” jazz historian Scott DeVeaux told Gina Kaufmann on Central Standard.

“I mean, Kansas City has a rich enough jazz tradition before him, but he’s the one who combines aspects of the local scene, like the local blues scene, in a way that, I think, makes bebop what it is,” DeVeaux said.

DeVeaux, who is the author of The Birth of Bebop, will join KCUR’s Chuck Haddix on a panel discussion Thursday at the American Jazz Museum. This event is part of Kansas City’s 2015 Charlie Parker Celebration.

“(Kansas City) is one of the major jazz regions from the ‘20s on forward … There’s a sense that there’s a jazz scene here that is very strong,” DeVeaux said. “And Charlie Parker is kind of the flower that comes out of this.”

“He’s just one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century. If anything, Kansas City, I’m sure, has lots to be proud of. But musically speaking … being the birthplace of Charlie Parker is enough. He’s just that important.”

Here is a list of events from the Charlie Parker Celebration, which runs from August 20-29.

Thursday, Aug. 20:

  • Opening event: Panel discussion with Chuck Haddix, Scott DeVeaux and Clay Jenkins on Parker and the birth of bebop. American Jazz Museum, 6 p.m., free (donation accepted).
  • “Bird Lives!” Permanent exhibition at the American Jazz Museum, featuring rare Charlie Parker artifacts.
  • Shades of Jade at the Blue Room, 7 p.m.

Friday, Aug. 21:

  • Lonnie McFadden at The Phoenix, 4:30 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 22:

  • The Bebop Language Music Boot Camp at the American Jazz Museum. 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., free (donation accepted), RSVP required.
  • “Parker’s Places: A Kansas City Jazz History Tour,” led by Chuck Haddix. 3 to 5 p.m., $25 tickets available at 816-474-6262 or at Ticketmaster.
  • Steve Lambert at Broadway Kansas City, 8 p.m.
  • Stan Kessler at 12 Baltimore, 8 p.m.

Sunday, Aug. 23:

  • Foundation 627 Big Band at Green Lady Lounge, 8:30 p.m.

Monday, Aug. 24:

  • “I Gotta Solo Jazz Improvisation Clinic/Master Class,” led by 2015 Charlie Parker Celebration Artist-in-Residence Clay Jenkins. Bring your instrument and learn about the key elements of building an improv jazz solo. American Jazz Museum, 4 to 4:50 p.m. Free (donations accepted), RSVP required.
  • Brett Jackson and Chris Hazelton at Chaz, 6 p.m.
  • Bill McKemy jam session at the Blue Room, 7 p.m.
  • Millie Jackson at The Phoenix, 7 p.m.

Tuesday, Aug.25:

  • Gerald Spaits/Charles Perkins Quartet at Johnson County Community College, noon.
  • “The ‘Elders’ Speak: We Remember Bird.” Two friends of Charlie Parker (Bernice Todd, 95, and Sellie Truitt, 97) share their stories at the American Jazz Museum. 6 p.m., free (donation accepted).
  • Michael Pagan at Café Trio, 6 p.m.
  • Lonnie Ray Band at Jazz: A Louisiana Kitchen, 7 p.m.

Wednesday, Aug. 26:

  • Hermon Mehari at The Majestic, 6 p.m.
  • 12th Street Jump at Broadway Kansas City, 7 p.m.

Thursday, Aug. 27:

  • Ryan Heinlein and the Kansas City Bone Company at Westport Coffee House, 7:30 p.m.
  • Micah Herman at The Ship, 10 p.m.

Friday, Aug. 28:

  • Tom Roberts at Café Trio, 6:30 p.m.
  • Ron Carlson Trio at Chaz, 7 p.m.
  • Hermon Mehari at Take Five Coffee  Bar, 8 p.m.
  • Montez Coleman Quartet at the Blue Room, 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 29:

  • Happy Birthday, Bird! Gravesite Memorial and Musical Salute at Lincoln Cemetery, 1 p.m.. (with a 2 p.m. reception at the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center). Free.
  • Happy Birthday Bird! Capstone Showcase Concert at the American Jazz Museum’s Blue Room, with Bob Bowman & Bowdog featuring Clay Jenkins. 8:30 p.m. Tickets ($15) available at Ticketmaster.