Writings about Music

Unforgettable Epiphany

It was an unforgettable and forever epiphany and transformation listening to a Charlie Parker recording of How High the Moon in tenth grade, retaining the song in my head simultaneously with the variations he wove, being particularly dazzled by Bird's rhythms and technique. His improvisational genius took flight within songs by composers and lyricists of genius together with blues forms. Coalescing synergistically with his rhythms, Parker's melodies within harmonies, timbres, phrasing, articulation, dynamics, and expression were all immortal revelations. Today, 29 August 2020, one hundred years since his birth, music remains inconceivable without his influence. Bird and Bach are forever cornerstones.

This is the Charlie Parker recording that first gave Michael Robinson an understanding of his music, beginning a monumental and voluminous study of Bird's recordings by the future composer, an obsession that included even listening to Charlie Parker solos while taking a shower!

 

This was the 1940 first hit recording of How High the Moon, perhaps introducing Charlie Parker to the song.

 

The 1951 version of Loverman is Michael Robinson's absolute favorite Charlie Parker recording.

 

The 1950 recording of Bloomdido is among other innumerable favorite Charlie Parker recordings.

 

Lee Konitz, whose friends included Leonard Bernstein and Lennie Tristano, told me Charlie Parker was easily the most intelligent person he ever met. Charlie Colin recalled for me Bird's childlike qualities, relating about the time the alto saxophonist enthusiastically played with flashcards creating the illusion of a movie while they rode on a train together leaving NYC. David Amram was so deeply touched by Charlie Parker's friendship and encouragement, a day rarely goes by without thinking of their time together.

- Michael Robinson, August 2020, Los Angeles

 

© 2020 Michael Robinson All rights reserved

 

Michael Robinson is a Los Angeles-based composer and writer (musicologist).