The Times of Charlie Parker*

Anyone intending to write a proper biography of Charlie Parker must eventually get to grips with the nature of genius itself. Very late in this, the first of two long-awaited volumes on the life of the great modern jazz saxophonist, Stanley Crouch comes close to the matter during a conversation with William « Biddy » Fleet, an obscure guitarist with whom Parker shared experiments in music after his arrival in New York in 1938, while still in his teens and groping his way towards his own style and a new conception of what jazz might become. « The thing I loved about Bird (Parker), » Fleet tells the author, « is this: he wasn’t one of those who’s got to write something down, go home, study on it, and the next time we meet, we’ll try it out. Anything anyone did that Bird liked, when he found out what it was, he’d do it right away. Instantly. Only once on everything.

*Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker by Stanley Crouch

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