Back when I was in junior high school I was introduced to the playing of Charlie Parker. It was 9th grade and up to that point all I had listened to was Spyro Gyra, Chuck Mangione, Dave Sanborn and the Yellowjackets. My saxophone teacher told me that if I wanted to be good at jazz then I had to get the “Omnibook” and check out Charlie Parker.
I immediately went out and bought this book and started working on it. I have to admit that these solos were extremely hard and frustrating for my 9th grade brain but I stuck with it. The hardest thing for me to figure out was why Parker would play a certain lick or phrase over a specific chord. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to it. I was learning all my chords from “Patterns for Jazz” by Jerry Coker and was learning what notes sounded good over what chords but then when I looked at a Charlie Parker solo I had trouble seeing how he was using these notes and creating his lines.
It wasn’t until many years later, when I was in college that I started to understand a bit more about what Parker was doing. Even to this day, I am in awe when I hear a recording of his. His lines are so harmonically rich. His rhythmic ideas and displacements are mind boggling. You just get a sense that he is playing whatever he wants, whenever he wants and he makes it work over the chords……….
I just found this youtube recording a few days ago and I have to say that this is one of the best Charlie Parker solos I have ever heard. It’s over the tune “Cherokee” and is a trio with Parker, a guitar player and drummer. It’s a great example of his flowing bebop lines mixed with his amazing sense of melody. That………..and it just swings like crazy! I could listen to this all day. Check it out. Also, if you are a sax players and have never checked out the omnibook, maybe this will convince you to give it a look!
P.S. To blow your minds even more, I just found out that Curtis at www.saxsolos.com has this solo transcribed. It will cost you 2.50! I just received it. Thanks Curtis!