Sunday, August 26, 2012

1 O'Clock in the Afternoon, the Last Sunday in August, at Lincoln Cemetery

Mark that on your calendar. That is, has been, and will always be the day that those who know and remember Charlie "Bird" Parker will gather at his grave for a simple, musical tribute.

Last year was my first time. I took my daughter, young Galadriel Tanqueray Onassis with me. I wrote about it here.

 The turn out was bigger last year. In previous years it was bigger still. In 2007 the BBC came over to cover it and jazz luminaries from all over were in attendance.

Many of the "fans" who turned out that year only had a vague notion of who Charlie Parker was (many probably had him confused with Louis Armstrong or Dizzy Gillespie) and only sallied forth from their Johnson County Gated Community to show up and show off.

 This year, well, it was smaller.

But size doesn't matter. What matters is that the tribute and commemoration continue.

The man carrying the torch for this event is Dennis Winslett. This sacred charge was laid upon Mr. Winslett by his mentor, Ahmad Alaadeen with his dying breath.

There are still people who care about Charlie Parker and his legacy. The Jazz Ambassadors sent flowers.

I believe this wreath was provided by one of the attendees.

And this tribute came all the way from Jazz Tokyo Magazine.

Seems that people in Japan have more reverence for Charlie Parker than Kansas City jazz musicians do. Flowers showed up. 

After the tribute, in an informal graveside chat, Dennis Winslett gave a great analogy. He said jazz musicians like Charlie Parker, Miles Davis and John Coltrane are like the fashion designers of the music industry. 

Nobody actually wears the clothes that Versace sends down the runway. But his design ideas reverberate through the fashion industry and echoes of them find their way into the style elements that real people do wear.

You might not listen to cutting edge jazz, but it will find its way to you whether or not you recognize from whence it came. Here are some more images from the day.

Bird Lives in those that remember and honor him.


Kevin said...

Sounds like a great way to spend an afternoon

Ducky's here said...

Once in L.A. I went over to Camarillo and lit a candle for him in the parking lot.

Got a couple gig on the iPod.

By the way XO, I appear to have hit the wall with Joe. Man is he steamed but I'm not sure why. He seems to imagine I've insulted Ann Romney and then bans me.

Maybe if he listens to the Dial sessions for a while he'll mellow out.

Xavier Onassis said...

Ducky - You never know what the fuck is going to set old Jo Joe off. I have no idea why he doesn't routinely delete my shit.

I don't know how you insulted Ann Romney. It's not like you called her a KNOWN EQUESTRIAN or anything.

Go try your commenting hand at Mike's America

Just as batshit crazy as Jo Joe but with a bigger audience.

Anonymous said...

It was actually 2005 when the BBC came out and did the documentary. The sad thing about this year's event is that it was not publicized at all, likely intentionally. There isn't a musician in jazz who doesn't revere and appreciate Charlie "Bird" Parker.

Xavier Onassis said...

Anonymous - If all of the local jazz musicians revere and appreciate Bird so much you would think they could remember that it is now, and shall always be, the last Sunday in August at 1pm. They shouldn't need publicity.

Xavier Onassis said...

Ducky - Feel free to contact me directly at

sue hanes said...

XO - You might want to check out Martin Gray's Blues for Bird. It got rave reviews.