The life and career of jazz titan and influential composer Charlie Parker will be honored throughout 2020 with a worldwide celebration commemorating the 100th anniversary of his birth (August 29, 1920). Dubbed “Bird 100” after the nickname of the alto saxophonist who was one of the fathers of bebop and progenitors of modern jazz, the centennial will include a host of major initiatives including new music releases, a tribute tour, festivals and events, exhibitions, special partnerships, a unique graphic novel, exclusive collectible art, and myriad of independent appreciations and concerts.
“The centennial of Charlie Parker is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to celebrate his life, legacy and art form with the world. We are thrilled to honor Bird’s transformative musical impact on past, present and future generations,” said the Estate of Charlie Parker.
Parker’s longtime label Verve Records in conjunction with UMe, the global catalog company of Universal Music Group, will kick off the yearlong celebration this week with a limited edition vinyl pressing of the rare 12” LP, The Magnificent Charlie Parker, an exclusive release for Record Store Day’s Black Friday, taking place Friday, November 29 at independent record stores around the country. The limited album, out of print on vinyl since its original 1955 release, features Parker going toe-to-toe with frequent collaborators Charles Mingus, Miles Davis, Max Roach and John Lewis with arrangements by Gil Evans.
Verve/UMe plan to celebrate Parker with several releases throughout 2020 and are currently in the works on a vinyl boxed set of Parker’s complete Clef 10” albums. Charlie Parker: The Clef 10” Albums Collection will arrive on August 28, 2020 timed with Parker’s 100th birthday and include five albums he recorded for Norman Granz’s Clef Records: Bird and Diz, Charlie Parker, Charlie Parker Plays South Of The Border, Charlie Parker With Strings and Charlie Parker With Strings (Vol. 2). The LPs will feature newly remastered audio from the original analog tapes and will include faithful reproductions of the classic artwork and packaging. Representing Bird’s fruitful late ‘40s to mid-50s Clef period, the albums have never been released together and all but Bird and Diz have been out of print on vinyl since their original releases. These albums are being presented in the form they were originally released in for the first time in more than six decades.
Craft Recordings will release The Savoy 10-inch Collection in February 2020. The deluxe boxed set features four 10” LPs cut from newly restored and remastered audio. The collection highlights Parker’s pioneering bebop recordings for Savoy Records from 1944-1948, featuring jazz legends Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, John Lewis, Bud Powell, Max Roach and more.
Bird’s legacy and music will soar throughout the year with a variety of festivals, concerts, events and an exciting tribute tour. Sanctioned by the Estate of Charlie Parker, “Fly Higher: Charlie Parker @ 100” features acclaimed co-musical directors Rudresh Mahanthappa (alto saxophone) and Terri Lyne Carrington (drums) as they celebrate the jazz master and examine his impact in pop, hip-hop, rap, rock and jazz. Joined by a lineup including Charenée Wade (vocals), Adam O’Farrill (trumpet), Kris Davis (piano), Larry Grenadier (bass) and Kassa Overall (DJ), Mahanthappa and Carrington will honor Parker’s centennial year by showcasing Parker’s uncompromising musical joy, humor and beauty by mining his deep repertoire and showcasing new, modern compositions. For more information, visit charliebirdparker.com/events/tour-events
Parker’s hometown Kansas City, Kansas and his adopted hometown New York City will honor the legend with their annual festivals and both have big plans for his 100th birthday. More information will be available here soon: cityparksfoundation.org/charlieparker
Birdland, the NYC jazz club that adopted their ornithological name in 1949 to capitalize on the popularity of their regular headliner Charlie “Yardbird” Parker, will curate a month-long Charlie Parker Jazz festival at the famed venue in August 2020. For tickets and more info, visit Birdlandjazz.com.
Additionally in NYC, Jazz Congress will host a panel discussion about Parker titled “Bird and Beyond: Celebrating Charlie Parker at 100” at the conference taking place January 13-14th, 2020 at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Later in the year, the New York Public Library for Performing Arts at Lincoln Center will present a series of programs that will include conversations and screenings in the Library’s Bruno Walter Auditorium, plus listening salons of rarely heard recordings in the Library cafe.
Celebrating its sixth year, the annual Charlie Parker Celebration in Kansas City, Kansas will celebrate Parker’s centennial with Spotlight: Charlie Parker, a 10-day citywide celebration of his life and music on August 20-29, 2020. KC Jazz Alive, University of Missouri Kansas City, the American Jazz Museum, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Mutual Musicians Foundation, Bruce Watkins Cultural Center and numerous other cultural and civic organizations will host jam sessions, tours, lectures, exhibits, panel discussions, poetry slams, workshops and concerts celebrating Charlie Parker—Kansas City’s native son. More information available at Spotlightcharlieparker.org
Other collaborations and partnerships include an event at The GRAMMY Museum® in Los Angeles to be announced at a later date, an official custom Charlie Parker Legends Series alto saxophone mouthpiece with RS Berkeley, modeled after the original one Parker used, and a graphic novel that the Charlie Parker Estate is currently developing with the esteemed Z2 Comics. The boutique company which has pioneered the “graphic album” format will bring some of Charlie Parker’s wild stories to vivid life through the marriage of comics and music.