Bird Lives! A Charlie Parker Centennial, With Strings Attached Charlie Parker with Strings was the most commercially successful project of his all-too-brief career. We'll examine the backstory and hear rare selections from the collaboration.

"Charlie Parker With Strings" album cover /Verve Records hide caption

toggle caption
/Verve Records

Jazz Night In America: The Radio Program

Bird Lives! A Charlie Parker Centennial, With Strings AttachedWBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

Bird Lives! A Charlie Parker Centennial, With Strings Attached

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/906334474/906734308" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Charlie Parker, the incandescent avatar of modern jazz, didn't live to see 35. His centennial is upon us, and with it comes a chance to celebrate his legacy — as a quicksilver alto saxophonist, a voracious musical thinker and a crucial link in the chain of jazz tradition. Bird, as he was fondly known, gave us a lexicon as well as a literature. Like Louis Armstrong before him and just a few others since, he redrew the possibilities of the art form, and he did it with absolute panache.

For our "Bird at 100" show, Jazz Night in America locks in on a Parker tribute featuring two alto saxophonists well suited to the task: leading bebop practitioner Charles McPherson and the ever-soulful Wess "Warmdaddy" Anderson. They joined forces for a Jazz at Lincoln Center concert organized by trombonist Vincent Gardner, with a focus on the iconic Charlie Parker with Strings recordings — a crossover landmark, and a byproduct of Parker's sincere interest in classical modernism.

We'll hear vibrant music from the concert — not only standard fare like "Just Friends," but also pieces like George Russell's "Ezz-thetic," which Parker never had the chance to record. We'll also hear insights from Carl Woideck, one of Parker's biographers, and violinist Teddy Blume, a key member of his string section. What it all amounts to is a reaffirmation of Parker's continuing relevance, as McPherson succinctly puts it. "When you do these kinds of projects," he reflects, "in a way, this is when you realize how great Bird was."

Set List

  • "Easy to Love" (Cole Porter, arr. Jimmy Mundy)
  • "Just Friends" (John Klenner, arr. Jimmy Carroll)
  • "Laura" (David Raksin, arr. Joe Lipman)
  • "Rocker" (Gerry Mulligan)
  • "Repetition" (Neal Hefti)
  • "Ezz-Thetic" (George Russell)
  • "Scootin' " (John Lewis)

Musicians

Vincent Gardner, trombone and music director; Charles McPherson, alto saxophone; Wess "Warmdaddy" Anderson, alto saxophone; Ehud Asherie, piano; Ben Wolfe, bass, Victor Lewis, drums.

The Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas: Ben Wendel, conductor; Daniel Andai, violin and concertmaster; Brooke Quiggins-Saulnier, violin; Elizabeth Young, violin; Cecee Pantikian, violin; Regi Papa, violin; Audrey Lo, violin; Irene Momchilova, viola, principal; Lev "Ljova" Zhurbin, viola; Benjamin Capps, cello; Keve Wilson, oboe and english horn; Kristi Shade, harp.

Credits

Special thanks to: Carl Woideck and Kerry Farrell. And to Phil Schaap for letting us use his interview with Teddy Blume. Hear the entire interview and many more of Phil's radio episodes here.

Writer and Producer: Alex Ariff; Senior Producer: Katie Simon; Host: Christian McBride; Project Manager: Suraya Mohamed; Music Engineer: Rob Macomber; Technical Director: David Tallacksen; Executive Producers: Anya Grundmann and Gabrielle Armand; Senior Director of NPR Music: Lauren Onkey.

[+] read more[-] less

More From Jazz Night In America: The Radio Program

Top (L to R): Antonio Hart, Carl Allen, Christian McBride, Roy Hargrove, Benny Green. Bottom (L to R): Marlon Jordan, Tim Warfield, Mark Whitfield Ken Franckling /Jazz Times hide caption

toggle caption Ken Franckling /Jazz Times

The Modern All-Stars: A Newport Jazz Festival Special

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

Hear a power hour of all-stars with some of the best sets to come out of the modern era of the Newport Jazz Festival, featuring Herbie Hancock, Roy Hargrove, Cécile McLorin Salvant and more.

The Modern All-Stars: A Newport Jazz Festival Special

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/895126229/895142198" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Ray Charles performs at The Newport Jazz Festival in 1968. /Newport Festivals Foundation hide caption

toggle caption /Newport Festivals Foundation

The Stars Shine: A Newport Jazz Festival Special

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

Hear historic music from the Newport Jazz Festival, hand-picked by Christian McBride. Tune in to rare sets from Ray Charles, Cannonball Adderley, Sarah Vaughan, Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong.

The Stars Shine: A Newport Jazz Festival Special

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/894713029/894773611" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Fans sit under an umbrella as shade from the hot sun during the Newport Jazz Festival in Newport, R.I., on July 8, 1962. Boston Globe/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Boston Globe/Getty Images

The Golden Age: A Newport Jazz Festival Special

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

Hear an unforgettable lineup of music from the Newport Jazz Festival, hand-picked by Christian McBride. Check out rare sets from the Clifford Brown/Max Roach Quintet, Dave Brubeck and Horace Silver.

The Golden Age: A Newport Jazz Festival Special

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/894579168/894686556" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Frank Stewart/Jazz at Lincoln Center

Inspired By Injustice, Wynton Marsalis Reflects On His Music

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

Host Christian McBride and trumpeter/composer Wynton Marsalis reflect on Marsalis' studio recordings that address injustices and speak about the role music plays in speaking truth to power.

Inspired By Injustice, Wynton Marsalis Reflects On His Music

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/886507097/886594075" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Jason Moran (left) and Georgia Anne Muldrow celebrate Charles Mingus during a program at the Kennedy Center. Jati Lindsay/Courtesy of the Kennedy Center hide caption

toggle caption Jati Lindsay/Courtesy of the Kennedy Center

Muldrow Meets Mingus

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

Vocalist and producer Georgia Anne Muldrow's interpretive tribute to Charles Mingus aligns with the Afrocentric current that flows through underground hip-hop, avant-R&B and psychedelic soul.

Muldrow Meets Mingus

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/521222975/521223124" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Becky Harlan/WBGO

The Evolution Of Jon Batiste

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

Jon Batiste was born for show business. Hear him play an intimate set in New York and on our radio show as we trace his story to his current gig as band leader of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis performs 'Portraits of America: A Jazz Story.' Frank Stewart /WBGO hide caption

toggle caption Frank Stewart /WBGO

Jazz And Art Take Center Stage To Form 'Portraits Of America'

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

Let's go to the museum with our ears. Members of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis explain their work inspired by the collection at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

JNIA Monty Alexander and Ray Brown (Photo Courtesy of the Artist) hide caption

toggle caption (Photo Courtesy of the Artist)

'Smile' With A Performance By Pianist Monty Alexander And Bassist Ray Brown

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

Hear a concert with pianist Monty Alexander and bassist Ray Brown from 2000. Host Christian McBride picks his favorite songs from the gig that puts both musicians' joy and camaraderie on full display.

Jazz Night in American - Monty Alexander and Ray Brown

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/841646948/841689423" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Vibraphonist Stefon Harris and double bassist Ben Williams. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

Stefon Harris: A Generation's Preeminent Voice Of The Vibraphone

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

Vibraphonist Stefon Harris gives us a lesson in empathy on and off the bandstand with his band Blackout.

Stefon Harris: A Generation's Preeminent Voice Of The Vibraphone

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/859446035/861194603" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Watch the Monterey Jazz Festival On Tour perform live from Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. Jazz at Lincoln Center hide caption

toggle caption Jazz at Lincoln Center

Hear The Monterey Jazz Festival On Tour Perform Live At Jazz At Lincoln Center

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

Hear highlights from a show with the Monterey Jazz Festival On Tour featuring Christian Sands, Cécile McLorin Salvant, Bria Skonberg, Melissa Aldana, Yasushi Nakamura and Jamison Ross.

Back To Top