"BIRD DREAMS" - a tribute to Charlie Parker
I am a part of an exhibit of 13 artists who have created works for "Remembering our Leaders" as part of the 2014 Black History Month Exhibit at the Hennepin Gallery in the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis.
I chose Charlie Parker who was one of the most influential improvising soloists in jazz, and a central figure in the development of bop in the 1940s. A legendary figure in his own lifetime, he was idolized by those who worked with him, and he inspired a generation of jazz performers and composers. By the mid-40’s, Parker discovered a technique that used the higher intervals of a chord as a melody line backed by appropriately related rhythmic changes. In doing so, he could play what he had been "hearing" in his head, but had not yet mastered. His conceptions of rhythm and phrasing eventually evolved to form his signature style. He earned his famous nickname "Bird," short for "Yardbird" in the early 40’s. As the story goes, Parker was given the nickname because he accidentally hit a chicken, otherwise known as a yard bird, while driving a bus on tour with the Jay McShann band. Charlie Parker was a jazz giant who changed the face of the entire art form by practically inventing modern jazz and shaping the course of 20th century music.
I created these photographs to illustrate how he has and will continue to influence generations of musicians like my 10 year old son depicted here in these images. Charlie Parker is the muse that Ezra emulates as he plays his sax for me during this shoot. As he develops his own skills as a saxophone player, Ezra can find motivation to keep practicing and playing by reflecting on our experience for this project, and from understanding that a master like "Bird" started out as a curious, inspired boy. That is what we honor with all of the work in this show - a deep reverence for those who have paved the way for others to create a new path in their own right.
If you get a chance to check out this show, it is in the Lower Level of the Hennepin County Government Center. It will be on display until February 27, 2014., 300 S. Sixth St., Minneapolis. Gallery Hours are Monday - Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
UROC, University of MN, Urban Research Outreach & Engagement Center, Minneapolis, MN