Eminent jazz journalist and critic Stanley Crouch will present his new biography of Charlie “Bird” Parker, Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker, at 6 p.m. this Friday, Nov. 8, at the Community Book Center (2523 Bayou Road).
Crouch’s new biography—the first half of what will become a two-part project—has been roundly praised as a nearly novelistic retelling of Parker’s life, work, and the world in which he ascended to jazz greatness.
“Stanley Crouch’s biography of Charlie Parker is a most compelling blend of three interlocking narratives: the biographical, the musical, and the historical, all three woven together brilliantly. Kansas City Lightning succeeds as few biographies of jazz musicians have, explaining exactly why Charlie Parker was a musical genius while also helping us understand Parker’s psychology and the larger context of his times. Crouch’s command of the language of music as is strong as his grasp of the history of African-American and American culture. And, as always, his flair as a storyteller is deeply impressive.” —Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
In a recent interview with Flavorwire about the book, Crouch described the element of improvisation in Parker’s art as well as the process of rendering in prose the world around him:
“Jazz improvisation is always about bringing control to the chaos of the present, with technique and comprehensive hearing made possible by empathetic hearing.
In Kansas City Lighning I strive to make the reader feel the presence of a magical, improvised reality, a presence that is not illusory but a fact of life as it was lived.
I wanted to give the reader the dance halls, the clubs, the jam sessions, the audience, and all of the individuals, players or listeners and dancers, every type from the Red Caps to those at the top of society and influence, from the endless American frontier of human beings to the machines that human beings so often chose to humanize. In fact, the perfect relationship between humanity and technology is heard when Charlie Parker blows life into a metal machine made of brass, keys, and a mouthpiece.”
Read the full interview at Flavorwire.