Opera Philadelphia

Schnyder's Essential Parker

By Opera Philadelphia

Whether you're a jazz head or new to Charlie Parker, dig into the genre-changing music of the bebop icon. Composer Daniel Schnyder shares a playlist of quintessential "Bird" songs that inspired his opera. 

1. All the Things You Are

Charlie arranged this piece as a love song to Chan, his fourth wife (though they were never legally married). Chan was a professional dancer and very free spirited. They had two children together.

2. Cherokee

Cherokee was a practice tune for Parker. According to an interview, one night it 1939 he was playing it in a jam session when he hit upon a method for developing his solos that enabled one of his main musical innovations: twelve semitones of the chromatic scale that can lead melodically to any key, breaking some of the confines of simpler jazz soloing.

3. Body and Soul

A representative bebop piece and harmonically complex, Parker initially struggled with it. Pannonica de Koenigswarter (Nica) was a leading patron of bebop music, writer, and dear friend to Charlie. 

4. Round Midnight

This is the most recorded jazz standard composed by a jazz musician and it is what hooked Nica to jazz.

5. Now's the Time
Now's the time to write a new piece of music, which is the theme of the opera.

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