Stories of Standards: "Confirmation"

Feb 22, 2017

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“Confirmation”, by Charlie Parker (1920-1955), has a copyright date of 1953, but was almost certainly composed by 1945 and may have been written five years earlier than that. It was first recorded by the Dizzy Gillespie Jazzmen in 1946 and was also known as “Riff Warmer” on “Bebop’s Heartbeat” (1947). Ross Russell, owner of Dial Records, tried setting up a publishing company to copyright Parker’s compositions. Unfortunately, an attorney “found the matter a hopeless tangle of unexecuted agreements, breached contracts, and uncopyrighted material.” This led to many differences between copyright dates and performance dates. 

Charlie Parker (1920-1955) was one of the most influential improvisers in the history of jazz, whose extended melody lines incorporated many short themes, with extensive use of ninth, eleventh and thirteenth intervals. Starting in Kansas City, he left school when 14 years old to play professionally, went to New York briefly in 1939, then returned to Kansas City, where he joined Jay McShane’s Orchestra. He played with Dizzy Gillespie first in Earl Hines’ band in 1943, then in Billy Eckstine’s band in 1944. Having moved to New York in 1945, then California later in the year, Parker’s health broke down. While he did largely recover, drugs and alcohol were problematic for years thereafter and contributed to his ill health, though pneumonia provided the proximate cause of death just four days after his final public performance. An icon of bebop, he embodied jazz as an artist and intellectual, profoundly affecting the understanding of the generations that followed.

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Charlie Parker