#TBT: Charlie Parker’s First Recording

For today's Throwback Thursday, let's remember jazz musician Charlie Parker (1920-1955), who first recorded 75 years ago on April 30, 1941.

Charlie Parker was a legendary Grammy-winning jazz alto and tenor saxophonist who, with Dizzy Gillespie, created the musical style called bop or bebop.

Celebrate the musical talent of Charlie Parker with these library materials.


Charles Walton Papers are an archival collection held at the Harsh Research Collection at Woodson Regional Library. Charles Walton was a jazz drummer, music educator and author of “Bronzeville Conversations,” a research and oral history project that documented the jazz and blues world in Black Chicago. The collection includes oral history recordings that discuss Charlie Parker.

William McBride Papers are another archival collection held at the Harsh Research Collection. From the 1930s through the 1980s, William McBride was an artist, political activist and collector of Bronzeville cultural memorabilia. There are a number of musical and dance performance posters in this collection, including a poster showcasing Charlie Parker performing “Jazz at the Philharmonic,” with Coleman Hawkins at the Civic Opera House in 1948.


Kansas City Lightning is a biography based on author Stanley Crouch's interviews with peers, collaborators and family members of Parker.

Charlie Parker Played Be Bop is colorful, funny and a great introduction to Charlie Parker for children.

Lawrence O. Koch's Yardbird Suite is  an in-depth study of Parker, including record date details, over 200 musical illustrations, and biographical information arranged chronologically and linked with Parker's recordings.


One of Charlie Parker's most popular albums, Bird and Diz, was released in 1952.

Now's the time captures Parker's music during one of his peak recording periods. Musicians Hank Jones, Al Haig, Teddy Kotick, Percy Heath and Max Roach all contribute on this amazing album.

Bebop was finally recorded in Carnegie Hall and captured on Diz 'n Bird at Carnegie Hall in September 1947. Listen to the sweet sounds of Parker and trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie on this 1997 CD.

Online Resources and Film

The Chicago Defender Historical Archive (1910-1975) and the Chicago Tribune Historical Archive (1849-1990) offer full-text access to these newspapers. Use these online resources to find articles about Charlie Parker's Chicago performances and other jazz legends.

Directed and edited by jazz fan Clint EastwoodBird tells the life story of Charlie "Yardbird" Parker.

The documentary Celebrating Bird explores Parker's amazing talent and the addictions that haunted him. The film includes the only surviving TV footage of Parker playing "Hot House."

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