I was blessed to first hear Charlie Parker’s music when I was 12 years old. The album was Archetypes. Soon after, I picked up the Bird: Master Takes on Savoy and my world was forever changed. His sheer virtuosity and innovative vocabulary were obviously astounding but what moved and continues to inspire me is the joy, humor, and beauty that he portrays, evokes, and instills. It was Charlie Parker (Bird) who truly embedded the spark for me to make a life in music. I have never looked back since.
While jazz has continued to evolve as a global art, it is of utmost importance to examine its gravitational sources and forces. While Bird’s music has been performed and recorded countless times, it is a higher order of magnitude to absorb his work and give new shape and meaning to his gifts. That is to say that imitating Parker is of no consequence to forwarding this form, but developing new perspectives upon tradition is the substance of contemporary expression. I firmly believe that Bird would have wanted his legacy to resonate in this fashion.
There are no Charlie Parker tunes on this album but each track is directly based on a Parker composition or solo. Historically, it has always been “easy” to state that Bird’s work left an indelible and influential mark on modern music but to prove that fact has been an exciting endeavor. When removed from its context, much of what Parker played or wrote is as modern as any current work in western music is it jazz, classical, rock, or pop. It has also been an immense pleasure for me to revisit my core roots that predate my concentration on bridging jazz and non-western music.
This album is not a tribute to Charlie Parker. It is a blissful devotion to a man who made so much possible. Bird Calls on all of us to embrace the beauty of the world as it exists here and now.-From the liner notes by Rudresh K. Mahanthappa.
At leisure, spin the incredible gem “BIRD CALLS” by Rudresh K. Mahanthappa