The centenary of Charlie Parker’s birth is nearly on us. He was born in Kansas City, Kansas on 29th August 1920. I had thought I might go to New York to catch some of the events to mark the date, but corona virus put paid to any such plans. His music has enriched my life. Many people feel the same way. Despite his problem with heroin addiction, there is something very beautiful in his music and, as I choose to believe, in his life too. Here is a poem inspired by a wonderful concert given by Sweet Chorus. Something in the phrasing of the long flowing lines of guitarist John Etheredge, called to mind Bird, and the debt so many musicians owed him.
CADENZA for Sweet Chorus At a concert an intricate sinuous phrase triggers a shiver in my neck which travels the length of my spine. Delicious; and a surprising reminder of my distant ancestors because for them the sensation would have signified something different; fear, pleasure perhaps, most probably just cold and damp. It is both old, and to come full circle*, as fresh as that musical shiver with which Bird astonished New Yorkers at Carnegie Hall when he played the cadenza right after the theme of 'A Night in Tunisia'.
- full circle because the poem remembers two concerts, one in Churchill, North Somerset on 20th June 2009 by Sweet Chorus; the other in Carnegie Hall, New York on 29th September 1947 by Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie.