Bird 100: 5 Initiatives Celebrating Charlie Parker Centennial

August 29, 2020, marks the 100th anniversary of one of jazz music’s greatest revolutionaries and one of the most important Black American figures in history: bebop innovator and trailblazing saxophonist Charlie Parker. Here are five initiatives, including vinyl reissues, graphic novels, videos and events you need to know, celebrating “Bird 100.”


Verve/UMe Releases and Vinyl Reissues: This Fall, Verve/UMe will release Bird in LA, featuring unreleased songs recorded during Bird’s storied visits to Los Angeles in the mid-40s through the early ’50s. The collection offers an illuminating new perspective on a previously under-examined chapter of Parker’s life and music.

In addition, on August 7, the label is reissuing The Magnificent Charlie Parker, a collection of Bird’s Clef Records singles, recorded in January and August 1951. This will be followed later in the year by a more expansive vinyl box set of Parker’s complete Clef 10” albums, named Charlie Parker: The Clef 10” Albums Collection, due out later this year.


Charlie Parker’s Graphic Novel Debut: Charlie Parker made his graphic novel debut with Chasin’ the Bird: Charlie Parker in California, written and drawn by Dave Chisholm and colored by DreamWorks Animation Director Peter Markowski. 

The book chronicles Bird’s storied time in Los Angeles in the mid-’40s. During this time, he brought the frenetic and novel sounds of bebop from the East Coast underground to the West Coast for a two-month residency at Billy Berg’s Hollywood Jazz Club with trumpet legend Dizzy Gillespie.


Deluxe Hardcover Charlie Parker Transcriptions: Hal Leonard celebrates the 100th anniversary of Charlie Parker’s birth with a deluxe hardcover release of Charlie Parker: The Complete Scores, featuring note-for-note transcriptions of 40 classic performances for saxophones, trumpet, piano, bass and drums.

Packaged in a protective slipcase, the book features note-for-note transcriptions of such classics as “Anthropology,” “Billie’s Bounce,” “Ornithology” and many more. It will be released on September 21 and is available now to pre-order.


Charlie Parker Events in Kansas City and New York City: Many live events both physical and virtual will take place, honoring the legacy of Charlie Parker. These include “Spotlight 2020: Charlie Parker,” a citywide celebration of Bird’s life and music, taking place in his birthplace of Kansas City, Missouri. The event will take place through the month of August online and at various venues around Kansas City, with jam sessions, tours, lectures, exhibits, panel discussions, poetry readings, workshops and concerts. Click here for a full schedule.

New York City’s nonprofit cultural community center 92Y will mark Parker’s centennial with “Charlie Parker: Now’s the Time – Celebrating Bird at 100.” This is a multidisciplinary celebration featuring 24 hours of special events on August 28-29. Click here for more.


First Installment of Record Store Day on Bird’s Birthday: The first installment of this year’s “socially distanced” three-day Record Store Day falls on Charlie Parker’s birthday, August 29. On this date, Bird aficionados will be able to get their hands on Jazz at Midnite.

The record documents stunning performances recorded live in 1952 and 1953, at the Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C., featuring stellar band members Max Roach, Charlie Byrd and Zoot Sims, among others. This edition comes on midnight blue vinyl, includes original liner notes from producer Bill Potts, and is designed like a classic ’50s Blue Note LP.


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