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Chasin' the Bird

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In his short life, Parker was one of the most influential musicians in jazz, and together with Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk, he was the main architect of the modern jazz revolution of the 1940s known as bebop. Addicted to drugs and alcohol, and with a tangled private life, Parker died young, and a legend grew up about his tragic genius.

Chasin' the Bird is a completely revised and expanded edition of the short biography of Charlie Parker by Brian Priestley first published in 1984 which quickly established itself as the most succinct, accurate and readable book on Parker. This edition, which is twice the length of the original, incorporates material which has come to light since the first edition was published. It also provides an expanded discussion of performances and recordings, with a complete discography, notes and bibliography.

Published: Oct 1, 2005


Section Chapter Authors
Preface Brian Priestley
Acknowledgements Brian Priestley
Introduction Brian Priestley
Body and soul Brian Priestley
The jumpin’ blues Brian Priestley
Now's the time Brian Priestley
Parker's mood Brian Priestley
Celebrity Brian Priestley
I remember you Brian Priestley
The song is you Brian Priestley
Confirmation Brian Priestley
Discography Brian Priestley
Notes Brian Priestley
Bibliography Brian Priestley
Index Brian Priestley

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'Brian Priestley has not just chased but captured the elusive Bird, illuminating the turbulent life and marvelous music with human and musical insight.'
Dan Morgenstern, Director, Rutgers Institute of Jazz Studies, and author, Living with Jazz

'Brian Priestley is one of the most accomplished jazz historians, critics, and biographers, and Chasin' the Bird is an indispensable gem – an ideal introduction to a major figure in 20th century music and an inventive interpretation of Parker's life and art that will also engage veteran jazz lovers. The comprehensive discography is a major bonus, making this a handbook every Bird chaser will relish.'
Gary Giddins, author of Weather Bird and (forthcoming) Tain't What You Do

'an absorbing and serious-minded biography.'
Chris Parker, Vortex website

'Brian Priestley's Chasin' the Bird: The Life and Legacy of Charlie Parker serves as the best overall book on Parker since Gary Giddens' photo-driven Celebrating Bird of 1987.'
New York Sun

'Priestley's revised and updated biography...offers valuable insights to Bird's career, mainly because it is seen through the prism of his music.... This volume makes a valuable contribution to jazz literature.... A useful addition to the Parker library.'
Down Beat

'Even if you've read other books on Parker, you'll gain some fresh perspective from this one. And if you've never read a book on Parker, you'd be well-advised to make this the first. Though Priestley is clearly a fan, he writes about the good in a clear-headed way and writes about the bad unflinchingly.'
Kansas City Star

'Easily enjoyed in a single sitting, with your favorite Parker record.... Well served by the breadth of Priestley's musical knowledge and his tenacious desire for accuracy.'
New York Times Book Review

'Priestley is thorough, accurate and backs up the information faithfully. As a valuable reference and an enjoyable read, Priestley's book stands out as an essential item for all of us.'
Jim Santella, Cadence