On this day in 1955, graffiti artists began scrawling the words "Bird Lives!" in subway stations and on walls around Greenwich Village in New York City. It was 47 years ago today modern jazz messiah Charlie Parker died at age 34. The alto saxophonist and leading founder of bebop played his last gig one week earlier at Birdland, the jazz club that was named for him.
On this day in 1926, the Savoy Ballroom first opened its doors in Harlem. With two bandstands and a huge dance floor, it was billed as the world's most beautiful ballroom. Many of the jazz dance crazes of the 1920s and '30s originated at the Savoy, known as "the home of happy feet." The opening night bill featured Fess Williams and his Royal Flush Orchestra, the Charleston Bearcats and Fletcher Henderson's Roseland Orchestra. It also became the home of numerous big band jazz battles.
This was also the day, in 1957, when Coleman Hawkins recorded his album "The Hawk Flies High" for the Riverside label. Bandmates included trumpeter Idrees Sulieman, trombonist J.J. Johnson, pianist Hank Jones, drummer Jo Jones, bassist Oscar Pettiford and guitarist Barry Galbraith.
Jack Kerouac was as hip as any 1950s jazz musician, and to some, he defined hipness itself. The voice of the Beat Generation was born this day in 1926 in Lowell, Mass. Writer Kerouac had an affinity for jazz, and made several jazz-based recordings with pianist Steve Allen and saxophonists Zoot Sims and Al Cohn. Jazz singer Mark Murphy has made two recordings (on the Muse label) inspired by Kerouac. Murphy says Kerouac "came closer than anybody else to writing down the bebop era. He wrote it like he was playing it."
Singer Al Jarreau was born this day in 1940 in Milwaukee.
Looking at today's hip happenings...
On the New York jazz scene... drummer Roy Haynes is at the Blue Note this week with Joshua Redman, Scott Colley and Dave Kokoski for his 78th birthday celebration. The Eric Reed septet is at the Village Vanguard through Sunday. The James Carter quintet is at Iridium all week with special guests Lonnie Smith and Steve Turre.
The 3rd annual Jazz Composers Collective Festival continues at The Jazz Standard tonight with the Ron Horton quartet and the Frank Kimbrough trio. The Dafnis Prieto quintet is at the Zinc Bar tonight. Singer Judi Silvano's quintet presents "A Tribute To Mal Waldron" tonight at Birdland featuring James Williams, Don Braden, Ed Schuller, Billy Drummond and special guest Mala Waldron.
In and around Boston... Paul Im and Remember Rockefeller are at The Regattabar in Cambridge. The 12-piece band La Timba Loca is at Scullers jazz club in Boston tonight.
Kelly Meashey is at the Philadelphia Museum of Art's Cafe Degas tonight.
In Chicago... Henry Johnson's Organ Express with Chris Forman is at Andy's. Charlie Johnson is at the Backroom. Airbourne is at Bistro America in Batavia. Mike Finnerty and the Jazz Hippies are at Cafe Ennui. The Bill Porter Orchestra with Rich Fudoli is at Green Dolphin Street. The Kurt Elling quartet is at the Green Mill. The Brass Tracks Big Band is at Hackney's. The Cyrus Chestnut trio is at the Jazz Showcase. Ken Saydak is at Joe's BeBop Cafe and Jazz Emporium. The Ron Perrillo trio is at Pete Miller's Steakhouse in Evanston. Jackie Allen and Judy Roberts are at Philander's in Oak Park. The Erin McDougald trio is at Pops for Champagne tonight.
On the New Orleans jazz scene... the 7e Jazz Trio is at the Blue Nile. Earl Brown is at Cafe Sbisa. Leigh "Little Queenie" Harris is at Dos Jefes. The Soul Rebels Brass Band is at El Matador. Steve Yocum's trio is at Fritzel's. 3 Now 4 and Lusher are at the Funky Butt. Topsy Chapman is at Harrah's. Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers are at Le Bon Temps Roule. Jonathan Freilich and Friends are at Lounge Lizards. The Johnny Vidacovich trio is at the Maple Leaf. Ingrid Lucia is at Mid-City Lanes Rock 'n' Bowl. Leroy Jones is at the Palm Court. John Brunious leads tonight's band at Preservation Hall. The John Mahoney Big Band is at Snug Harbor.
In California... the Kevin Hays trio is at the Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles through Thursday. The Marilyn King quartet is at Spazio in Sherman Oaks. The Benn Clatworthy quartet is at Charlie O's in Valley Glen. Tom Hynes' band and the Citrus College Big Band are at Steamers Jazz Cafe in Fullerton. The Yardbones are at Jazz at Pearl's in San Francisco. Vital Information, featuring Steve Smith, Tom Coster, Frank Gambale and Baron Browne, is at Yoshi's jazz club in Oakland tonight.
Bluesman Pinetop Perkins is at Dimitriou's Jazz Alley in Seattle tonight.