*1920-08-29, † 1955-03-12
Charles Parker Jr. (August 29, 1920 – March 12, 1955), nicknamed "Bird" or "Yardbird", was an American jazz saxophonist, band leader and composer. Parker was a highly influential soloist and leading figure in the development of bebop, a form of jazz characterized by fast tempos, virtuosic technique, and advanced harmonies. Parker was an extremely fast virtuoso and introduced revolutionary harmonic ideas into jazz, including rapid passing chords, new variants of altered chords, and chord substitutions. Primarily a player of the alto saxophone, Parker's tone ranged from clean and penetrating to sweet and somber. He was known for the very clear, sweet and articulate note he could produce from the saxophone. Parker acquired the nickname "Yardbird" early in his career on the road with Jay McShann. This, and the shortened form "Bird", continued to be used for the rest of his life, inspiring the titles of a number of Parker compositions, such as "Yardbird Suite", "Ornithology", "Bird Gets the Worm", and "Bird of Paradise". Parker was an icon for the hipster subculture and later the Beat Generation, personifying the jazz musician as an uncompromising artist and intellectual rather than just an entertainer.