Episode Air Date: July 28, 2016
Artist: Jay McShann Orchestra
Recording Title: Swingmatism
Jay McShann gave birth to the “Kansas City Sound”, but this song has gone down in history as a beginning of another sort.
You’re on the Sound Beat.
“Swingmatism” was sax master Charlie Parker’s first recording, made on April 30 1941.
No one’s quite sure how Parker earned the nickname. Most stories seem to center around the shortening of “yardbird”, slang for chicken. One such has him traveling to a gig with McShann’s band, when their car strikes a bird. Parker hops out, brings the unfortunate fowl with him and asks their boarder to cook it for him. No word on whether this was a usual request for the time.
Parker would go on to revolutionize the instrument and the genre, earning praise from critics, the “Beat poets” and fellow jazz greats. Indeed Miles Davis once quipped that you could sum up jazz history in four words: “Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker”.
We’ll spare you the “Bird”/Twitter pun, but if you’re in the Tweetisphere, follow us @onthesoundbeat.