Stanley Crouch: Part 1 of Charlie Parker’s story

Kansas City Lightning: The Rise And Times Of Charlie Parker, by Stanley Crouch

Kansas City Lightning: The Rise And Times Of Charlie Parker, by Stanley Crouch


Stanley Crouch is just about the coolest guy in the world. At least I think so. So this interview on his new book, Kansas City Lightning: The Rise And Times Of Charlie Parker was as much fun as listening to an old Bird album sidled up to a cocktail or three.

I first saw Mr. Crouch on Ken Burns’s “Jazz” documentary more than a decade ago – hard to believe it has been that long. No offense to Wynton Marsalis, who was great, but it was Mr. Crouch who reached through the TV screen, grabbed me by whatever ugly shirt I was wearing at the time, and said “you’ve GOT to listen to this stuff!” He might not have said stuff.

I notice some cats are complaining that Mr. Crouch strays from his subject matter from time to time. He does. I didn’t ask him this during our interview, but my guess is that Mr. Crouch wrote this not just for the jazz fan but for that person who needs to be grabbed by the shirt and hear “THIS is why Bird is important to you.” Sorry jazz fans, but we aren’t even close to a majority of the populace, and Mr. Crouch needed to stray from Charlie Parker to put Charlie Parker’s world in a context we (hopefully) can understand. None of us have any idea, no matter how many old movies we watch, what it was like to live as a black man 70 or 80 years ago. Especially us white cats.

I do hope you enjoy the book and the interview. I can’t wait for volume 2 and interview 2.

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