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Bird: The Life and Music of Charlie Parker (Music in American Life) Hardcover – August 23, 2013


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Bird: The Life and Music of Charlie Parker (Music in American Life) + Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker + Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington
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Product Details

  • Series: Music in American Life
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press; 1st Edition edition (August 23, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 025203791X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252037917
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #428,303 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

This short biography by Kansas City–based Haddix is an attempt to separate the life from the considerable legend of jazz innovator and bebop pioneer Charlie “Yardbird” Parker. Haddix’s fine introduction recapitulates the complexities and contradictions in the protean Parker and suggests the overwhelming task the author has set for himself—a task also being tackled by notable jazz critic Stanley Crouch, whose Kansas City Lightning, the first of a two-volume biography of Parker, also appears in October. Haddix has done prodigious research, drawing on the copious jazz literature as well as previously published conversations with Parker’s former associates and friends, but seems to have initiated rather little interviewing himself in trying to accomplish his ambitious goal. His book is nonetheless, by virtue of its impressive detail, a notable addition to the extensive Music in American Life series and offers a good, brief life story of a sadly brief (if full) life. Though this volume won’t command the interest that Crouch’s account will, most Charlie Parker devotees will treat the appearance, in the same month, of two books about their idol as a very good thing indeed. --Mark Levine

Review

"Impressive detail, a notable addition to the extensive Music in American Life Series."--Booklist

"Balancing historical research and anecdotal information, Haddix artfully crafts a rich context for understanding the musical genius—-and enigma—that was Bird. . . . the book's pacing, numerous quotes from other musicians, and references to legal practices of the time make it hard to put down. Highly recommended."--Choice




"A well-researched and rapidly consumed book."--AllAboutJazz.com

"Clearly the most complete account of the saxophonist's early life and career.  What emerges from Bird is a much more human tale that we have not heard before."--Popmatters.com

 




"As comprehensive and appreciative as any of the past Parker literature."--The Santa Fe New Mexican

"Bird makes extensive use of primary-source material, much of it hitherto unknown. . . . It sets forth the known facts of Parker's brief life in a way that is unusually thorough for so concise a book."--Commentary

 

 


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Customer Reviews

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The best book written on Bird so far.
Lisa M. Nelson
A reader less familiar with the subject, however, will find the book to be an outstanding overview of a life almost unbearably triumphant and tragic.
John Burton
I read Bird recently as I am saving the book for my grandson for Christmas.
Kay Stewart

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By John Burton on September 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My only disappointment (not enough to deduct a star) stems from the fact that Chuck Haddix used only 160 pages to cover a life meriting ten times that number. Due to the brevity, there are too many omissions for the book to serve as a basic reference. Reading like an extended essay, the work is especially well researched and informative when dealing with events in Parker's (and Haddix's) hometown of Kansas City.

Having devoured every previously published biography of Charlie "Bird" Parker (and those of figures close to him such as Chan Richardson Parker, Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie), I was a bit frustrated to read once again many anecdotes that seem to appear in each one, in some cases verbatim. A reader less familiar with the subject, however, will find the book to be an outstanding overview of a life almost unbearably triumphant and tragic. Haddix is focused, objective, well organized, appropriately dispassionate, highly factual, and non-judgmental. This approach to history maximizes impact on the reader by letting the facts speak for themselves, unencumbered by the digressions, adjectives and meaningless commentary that dilute lesser works.

There are significant new facts documented, especially concerning Bird's childhood in Kansas City, Kansas (yes he was born there and not in Missouri, where he came of age and acquired his foundation in music), his parents and their relationship with each other, his early, unsuccessful marriage to Rebecca Ruffin, and his returns to visit his mother in Kansas City.

Bird is arguably the greatest improvisor in jazz history.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy on January 13, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Encyclopedic, but I think valuable. It's interesting that this bio--focusing mainly on his NY career and later--hit the market about the same time as Crouch's KC-focused BIRD. Nearly opposite in style. One bit that's not clear: on the initial Diz and Bird trip to LA, the drummer first mentioned on the trip is Max Roach, but it was Stan Levey who spotted Bird wandering outside the train. I'd like some clarification. Was there a switch just before they boarded the train?

That factoid aside, this book is a good source, a worthwhile read for Bird followers to brush up.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By James L. Jeter III on October 15, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I found the book informative in the reporting of Charlie Parker's life, and the music he was playing at the time of significant events in his life.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I saw Haddix give a presentation in KC at the IAJRC annual convention. His stories of Charlie Parker were very interesting. My only wish was that he would see that the earliest recordings of Bird could see the light of day.
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Format: Hardcover
For some reason or another, I previously hadn’t read a book about Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker so when I came across this, published by the University of Illinois Press I was intrigued. I took it with me when I was in America recently, started reading it at San Francisco airport and by the time I arrived in Dallas it was finished. That is not because it is an incredibly short book (excluding the references and notes it is just over 160 pages long), but rather that it is written in an incredibly engaging and fast moving style that really brings the reader into the world that Bird lived in. It is not an academic tome dissecting every note to the nth degree, but rather is about Charlie the person and what drove him. It makes no apologies for him, but rather lays out the facts and lets the reader make up their own mind as what they think of Parker. Of course, a book about Charlie must also be a book about his music and the people he played with, but that part is more about explaining how he got from a to b, and what paths he had to get there.

I enjoy reading musical biographies, and the difference between this and the last one that I read (Peter Criss) is somewhat startling. Neither of them led idyllic lives, and both have obviously suffered somewhat, but while after reading Peter’s book I felt that I still wasn’t any closer to really knowing him as a person, that is certainly not the case with Haddix’s book. It is obviously a work of love by someone who knows the subject matter really well, but he has taken great pains to reference what he is saying so that one can look up the source if one feels the need.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Great insight into the brilliant and tragic life of Charlie Bird Parker. Mr. Haddix has documented his work extensively and reveals that Bird's childhood was father to the man.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Doghouse Reilly on December 10, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Factual, but not much more. A good chronology of Bird's life. Good details, but a bit of a dry read.
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