Centennial

August 31, 2020. Miles Davis once said, “You can tell the history of jazz in four words: Louis Armstrong. Charlie Parker.” August 29th, 2020 marked the 100th anniversary of the latter’s birth, and alto saxophonists Vincent Herring, Bobby Watson, and Gary Bartz got a head start on celebrating earlier this year with Bird at 100—a worthy tribute to the man of insatiable appetites who became a God-like figure to the Beat generation and redefined jazz to mean the highest form of musical improvisation.

Charlie "Bird" Parker was one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. In his brief life, Parker created a new sound on the alto saxophone and spearheaded a revolution in harmony and improvisation that pushed popular music from the swing era to bebop and modern jazz.

The great alto saxophonist and jazz icon Charlie "Yardbird" Parker was only 34 years old when he died in 1955. During his short life, he became one of the most influential improvising soloists in jazz. As we celebrate Bird's 100th birthday week on WRTI starting on August 24th, Jazz Host Bob Perkins talks with Susan Lewis about why he's always been in sync with the music of Charlie Parker.

December 9, 2019. The archival masters at Resonance Records are at it again, this time with an ambitious project to celebrate the centennial of the great Nat “King” Cole. Hittin’ the Ramp: The Early Years (1936 to 1943), gives an in-depth account of the youthful years of the hit-maker, before he made any big hits.

Jamie Bernstein can't call her childhood a typical one. On any given weekend, she might find Lauren Bacall, Isaac Stern, Richard Avedon, Mike Nichols, Stephen Sondheim, Lillian Hellman or Sidney Lumet hanging out at her house. Jamie's father was Leonard Bernstein.

One hundred years ago Tuesday, in a working-poor neighborhood of Newport News, Va., a laundress and a shipyard worker had a baby girl. The father soon disappeared, and the mother and child moved north to New York. The mother died. The girl ran away and became one of the most important singers of the 20th century.

Ella Fitzgerald could sing anything: a silly novelty song, like her breakthrough hit, "A-Tisket, A-Tasket." A samba that scatted. A ballad, spooling out like satin.

Join us on Tuesday, April 7th during jazz hours for our centennial tribute to Billie Holiday, who was born in West Philadelphia, on April 7, 1915, and went on to become a musical and social phenomenon who changed the face of music forever.  

As part of Vintage Week on WRTI, we'll present anecdotes about Lady Day and continue to play vintage jazz favorites from our jazz staff in celebration of Jazz Appreciation Month.