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Third Annual Charlie Parker Celebration - August 18 through August 27 - in Kansas City

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Celebrating & exploring the life/legacy of KC native/jazz great, Charlie "Yardbird" Parker. August 18 through August 27.
The Celebration of “Bird" in Kansas City Continues

KC Jazz Clubs, American Jazz Museum, 18th & Vine Jazz District, Lincoln Cemetery (Parker gravesite) and other historical KC locations.

The 3rd Annual Kansas City Charlie Parker Celebration (CPC) will again explore and recognize the legacy of one the most influential saxophonists and jazz icons to ever perform.  The Celebration, a comprehensive Charlie Parker tribute, continues to grow locally and gain recognition through the U.S.

Parker was born in 1920 in Kansas City, Kan., and moved in 1927 to Kansas City, Mo.—where jazz was flourishing and the city was one of several ports instrumental in ushering in the musical improvisation style of Bebop, which Parker is identified with.

The 2016 Charlie Parker Celebration includes some new elements while maintaining the popular events from the first two Parker Celebration events, including the Charlie Parker Historical Tour and Graveside Musical Salute in conjunction with his birthday (August 29, would be age 96).

NEW in 2016:

Opening Night Reception & Lecture (August 18)—this year's opening event offers a different twist than the previous CPC panel discussions. It opens with a 6 p.m. reception. Ron McCurdy, a professor of music at the Thornton School of Music at University of Southern California, will follow with a talk, “The Life and Legacy of Charlie Parker." McCurdy is also past president of the International Association of Jazz Education and a consultant to the Grammy Foundation educational programs. Open to the public.

Artist-in-Residence (AIR)—two-time Grammy winner Tivon Pennicott, a tenor saxophonist, will participate in many CPC events including accompanying local artists at the participating CPC jazz clubs. He released his debut album, Lover of Nature, in 2014.

Tour de Jazz (Saturday, August 20)—a bike ride that explores historic and contemporary sites in KC's vibrant music scene. Hear great music along the route, learn about local jazz history, and discover beautiful neighborhoods. The 50-mile ride originates from the 18th & Vine Jazz District at 3 p.m. There are also a 30-mile bike tour (4 p.m.) and a family-friendly 10- mile tour (5 p.m.).  

MORE CHARLIE ABOUT PARKER

Parker's early music lessons occurred in the KC public schools. He began playing alto sax at age 13 and worked occasionally with semi-professional groups before leaving school at age 15 and becoming a full-time musician. For the next four years he would perform primarily in KC with a variety of local blues and jazz groups. His craft was developed mostly through practical experience and listening to older jazz performers.  He began traveling to other cities in the late 1930s. He joined Jay McShann's band, began touring, performed solo in many of McShann's recordings and soon prominence followed.

As part of the Charlie Parker Celebration, organizers have assembled a series of events that offer performance, education and of course, tributes. The balance of those events are listed below.

Charlie Parker Celebration Event Schedule

Charlie Parker Celebration (CPC) |Opening Night Reception & Lecture

DATE/TIME Thursday, August 18, (6 to 7:30 pm)
PLACE: American Jazz Museum Atrium
COST: Free

The opening event features Ron McCurdy, a professor of music at the Thornton School of Music at University of Southern California. His talk is titled, “The Life and Legacy of Charlie Parker." McCurdy is also past president of the International Association of Jazz Education and a consultant to the Grammy Foundation educational programs. Sponsored by the American Jazz Museum in cooperation with KC Jazz ALIVE.

Art of the Jam Session with Artist-in- Residence Tivon Pennicott

DATE/TIME: Saturday, August 20 (9 am- Noon)
PLACE: American Jazz Museum Atrium
Cost: No cost. For more information, contact Museum at 816-474- 8463

“The Art of the Jam Session" will be led by acclaimed saxophonist Tivon Pennicott. Using the music of Charlie Parker and the historic social incubator of the jam session, students of all ages receive the inside scoop on jam sessions. Pennicott will discuss the skills needed and how to be prepared for the experience. The session will include improvisation instruction with top local players and an actual jam session as students sit in with KC's best. Sponsored by the American Jazz Museum in recognition of the Charlie Parker Celebration.

Tour de Jazz

DATE/TIME: Saturday, August 20
(3 pm, 50-mile ride; 4 pm, 30-mile ride; 5 pm, 10-mile ride)
PLACE: 18th & Vine Jazz District
COST: $35 through July 31. $40 regular price; $45 if registering at event.

The Tour de Jazz bike ride explores historic and contemporary sites in KC's vibrant music scene. Hear great music, learn about KC jazz history, and discover beautiful neighborhoods. The 50-mile ride originates from the Jazz District at 3 p.m. There are also a 35-mile bike tour (4 p.m. start) and a family-friendly 10-mile tour (5 p.m. start).  

“We Remember Bird"

DATE/TIME: Tuesday, August 23 (5- 6:30 pm)
PLACE: American Jazz Museum Atrium
COST: Free

“We Remember Bird" panel discussion explores stories of  Kansas City Elderstates-members and special guests. Panelists include Elvis “Sonny" Gibson, Grant “Groovy Grant" Hopkins, 96-year- old Bernice Todd (widow of Parker friend, Oliver Todd), jazz poet Daniel Jaffe, with special guests Kim Parker (daughter of Charlie Parker) and CPC Artist-in-Residence Tivon Pennicott.  Panel moderated by Steve Penn (Coda Jazz Fund Chair). Sponsored by Kansas City Jazz ALIVE, American Jazz Museum, Church's Chicken and the Elder Statesmen of Kansas City Jazz.

Live Bird with Jeff Robinson

DATE/TIME: Tuesday, August 23 (7:30- 8:30 pm)
PLACE: Green Lady Lounge
COST: No cover charge

Live Bird, a one-man play written by playwright, director and saxophonist Jeff Robinson, celebrates the life of jazz legend and alto saxophonist Charlie “Bird” Parker. It is set in a bar in Harlem, NY in 1954. Bird talks about his days in Kansas City, talks to imaginary characters, imitates Lester Young and plays some of his songs.. Sponsored by the Green Lady Lounge in recognition of the Charlie Parker Celebration.

A Kansas City Jazz Historical Tour

DATE/TIME: Saturday, August 27 (10 am- 1:30 pm)
PLACE: 18th & Vine District and select KC jazz sites
COST: $25 limited

Hosted by jazz historian Chuck Haddix, the tour visits special sites in Kansas City that played a significant role in the life and development of Charlie Parker. The two-part tour begins at 10 a.m. at the American Jazz Museum with a walking tour of the Jazz District including details about Parker's impact on the District. Venues on the tour include Lincoln Hall, El Capitan Club, Ol' Kentuck BarBQ Local 627/Mutual Musicians Foundation, Lucille's and Paseo Hall. Then the tour proceeds to Lincoln Cemetery for the annual Charlie Parker “21 Sax Salute." Sponsored by KC Jazz Alive and KCTG (Kansas City Transportation Group).

Happy Birthday Bird!

Graveside Memorial, 21 Sax Salute and a Birthday Celebration


DATE/TIME: Saturday, August 27 (Noon, followed by 1.30 p.m. reception)
PLACE: Lincoln Cemetery, Reception at Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center
COST: Free and open to public

The annual musical salute originally created by KC Jazz Legends Eddie Baker and Ahmad Alaadeen, this event will feature a host of KC's finest musicians in a stunning salute at the site of Charlie Parker’s grave at Lincoln Cemetery in east Kansas City (Truman Road and Blue Ridge Blvd.). The day includes a special reception hosted by the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center. Presented by the Kansas City Jazz Advocates, Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center in cooperation with Kansas City Jazz ALIVE.

Happy Birthday Bird! Capstone Showcase Concert

DATE/TIME: Saturday, August 29 (8:30 pm)
LOCATION: American Jazz Museum, Blue Room
COST: $15, Ticketmaster or 816-474- 6262

A special performance featuring Peter Schlamb. Sponsored by the American Jazz Museum in recognition of the Charlie Parker Celebration.

About Kansas City Jazz ALIVE

The mission of Kansas City Jazz ALIVE is to build AWARENESS, serve as a LISTENING body, provide a platform for integrating IDEAS, function as a VOICE, provide EXPOSURE to resources, and unite the Kansas City jazz community. As a catalyst organization—supporting artists, enthusiasts and venue owners, we strive to “raise the tide that lifts all jazz boats.”

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