Dec 9, 2011

Charlie Parker's Musical Quotes

Lawrence Koch's book "Yardbird Suite," reviewed in my last post, offers quite a bit of analytical detail about most of Charlie Parker's recordings, including the musical quotations in Bird's solos. Below is a list I extracted from the book as I re-read it. (Thanks to the author for his kind permission.)

Update 12/21/15 - I've added a few more at the end of the list, from Thomas Owens' dissertation "Charlie Parker: Techniques of Improvisation" (1974).

Parker was more likely to employ musical quotes in live performances than in the studio; it was his way of telling a little joke to his audience. Sometimes his choice of quote was intended as a message to a fellow musician or to a particular listener, sometimes it was just being silly.

This list is more or less chronological, 1941-1955. I haven't included examples of Parker quoting his own previous recordings, or quoting other musicians' solos (e.g., Lester Young's), and I have only listed the first instance of each song quote that Koch cites. When a jazz standard like "Star Eyes" or "I'll Remember April" appears on the list, it's because it was quoted in a solo over a different tune.

There's no independent research on my part here, just a collation of the melodies cited throughout the book. I'm sure that the list is incomplete. It's posted for your amusement, and as bit of musical history.

Isle of Capri
We're in the Money
Bye Bye Blackbird
London Bridge
Happy Am I With My Religion
Drum Boogie
Mean to Me
Woody Woodpecker
Cocktails for Two
In the Gloaming
Happy Birthday
Canadian Capers
Country Gardens
D'Ye Ken John Peel
Le Secret
When The Red, Red Robin...
Why Was I Born?
Buttons and Bows
Then I'll Be Happy
I'll Remember April
The Kerry Dancers
Jingle Bells
The Man On the Flying Trapeze
Pop Goes the Weasel
My Kind of Love
On the Trail
Blues in the Night
West End Blues
High Society
Barnacle Bill the Sailor
The Prisoner's Song
That's A-Plenty
Johnny One-Note
My Man
Did You Ever See a Dream Walking?
In and Out the Window
Memories of You
A-Hunting We Will Go
Claire de Lune
National Emblem March
Jeanie With the Light Brown Hair
Cross My Heart 

Star Eyes
The Song is You
Let's Have Another Cup of Coffee
Mozart Symphony #40
Let's Fall in Love
Three Blind Mice
I Love You Truly
Why Do I Love You
William Tell Overture
Santa Claus is Coming to Town
I Can't Get Started
I Cover the Waterfront
Minuet in G
Moon Over Miami

Addenda: from the Owens dissertation mentioned above:

Over There
Put Your Little Foot
Oh Come, all Ye Faithful
Minute Waltz (Chopin)
"Introduction" from "The Rite of Spring" (Stravinsky)
"Dance of the Ballerina" from "Petrouchka" (Stravinsky)
"Anitra's Dance" (Grieg)
"In the Hall of the Mountain King" (Grieg)
"Menuet Celebre" (Paderewski)
"Star of Eve" from "Tanhauser" (Wagner)

Addendum 9/26/17 - I just ran across this page with more great Bird quote info: Quotes in Bird's Performance.

Addendum 6/13/19 - A few more from the new "Charlie Parker Omnibook Vol. 2":

Tickle Toe
It Don't Mean a Thing
Volga Boat Song

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