Charlie Parker (1920-1955) was a saxophone player whose influence on jazz is immeasurable. In the 1940’s Parker was central to the development of Bebop, the music of The Beat Generation, and a key phase in the conception of jazz as an earnest intellectual genre rather than just a popular entertainment.
Parker began playing the saxophone at the age of 11- one story holds that as a 14 year old he was thrown off his school band for not being up to scratch. He later told Paul Desmond that he spent 3–4 years practicing up to 15 hours a day.
It was as a youth that Parker, given morphine following an automobile accident, developed the opiate addiction that curtailed his life.
In addition to addiction problems,Parker endured financial hardship and spells in mental institutions.
I’m not equipped to write about the technical factors that made Parker’s music so significant- but I certainly can recommend listening to the records!
Here is a 44 track compilation of some of his most famous recordings.