Parker and Stravinsky

16 March 2009

improvisation2charlieparker

Even half a century after his death, when we must know everything there is to be discovered about the life of Charlie Parker, he still has the capacity to surprise. Take this passage, in Alex Ross’s The Rest Is Noise:

Jazz musicians sat up in their seats when Stravinsky’s music started playing; he was speaking something close to their language. When Charlie Parker came to Paris in 1949, he marked the occasion by incoporating the first notes of the Rite [of Spring] into his solo on “Salt Peanuts”. Two years later, playing Birdland in New York, the bebop master spotted Stravinsky at one of the tables and immediately incorporated a motif from Firebird into  “Koko”, causing the composer to spill his scotch in ecstasy.

The picture is from a long interview with Paul Berliner about improvisation, on the Afropop Worldwide site.

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