Saxophone virtuoso Charlie "Bird" Parker began playing professionally in his early teens, became a heroin addict at 16, changed the course of music, and then died when he was only 34 years old.
A friend later observed: "Parker, in the brief span of his life, crowded more living into it than any other human being."
Educator/broadcaster/jazz expert Chuck Haddix examines Parker's tumultuous life and prodigious output in a discussion of his new book Bird: The Life and Music of Charlie Parker
on Sunday, January 19, 2014, at 2 p.m. at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.
To create a portrait of this tragic genius, Haddix artfully weaves together firsthand accounts from those who knew the legendary jazzman and new, in-depth research into previously overlooked historical sources.
Born in Kansas City, Kansas, Parker cut his musical teeth in Kansas City's jazz clubs, developing into an influential jazz soloist and becoming a leading figure of bebop, the jazz form characterized by fast tempos, virtuosic technique, and improvisation. After his death he became an icon of hipster subculture and the Beat Generation, personifying the jazz musician as an uncompromising artist and intellectual rather than a mere entertainer.
Trumpeter Miles Davis once said: "You can tell the history of jazz in four words: Louis Armstrong. Charlie Parker."
Haddix is director of the Marr Sound Archives at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the co-author of Kansas City Jazz: From Ragtime to Bebop -- a History. He is the longtime host of Fish Fry, a Friday and Saturday night staple on KCUR-FM.
Admission to the event is free. Free parking is available in the Library District parking garage at 10th and Baltimore. RSVP at kclibrary.org  or call 816.701.3407.
This presentation is part of the Missouri Valley Sundays series, a program of the Missouri Valley Special Collections at the Central Library. The series is made possible in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.