Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie
Parker is the first installment in the long-awaited portrait of one of
the most talented and influential musicians of the twentieth century, from
Stanley Crouch, one of the foremost authorities on jazz and culture in America.
Throughout his life, Charlie Parker personified the tortured
American artist: a revolutionary performer who used his alto saxophone to
create a new music known as bebop even as he wrestled with a drug addiction
that would lead to his death at the age of thirty-four. Drawing on interviews
with peers, collaborators, and family members, Kansas City Lightning re-creates
Parker’s Depression-era childhood; his early days navigating the Kansas City
nightlife, inspired by lions like Lester Young and Count Basie; and on to New
York, where he began to transcend the music he had mastered. Crouch reveals an
ambitious young man torn between music and drugs, between his domineering
mother and his impressionable young wife, whose teenage romance with Charlie
lies at the bittersweet heart of this story.
With the wisdom of a jazz scholar, the cultural insights of
an acclaimed social critic, and the narrative skill of a literary novelist,
Stanley Crouch illuminates this American master as never before.
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