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Bebop wasn't originated by any one person, but by a handful of musicians who gravitated toward New York, and each other, to take jazz in a radical new direction. The outlaw status they achieved was not about what they said or wore or how they behaved; it was about chords, rhythms and a cooler approach. Lester Young, whom Billie Holiday dubbed "The President," was fired from Fletcher Henderson's band because the audience didn't understand his gentle style, so different from that of his predecessor, the forceful Coleman Hawkins. Thelonious Monk, Oscar Pettiford , arranger/pianist Tadd Dameron, and drummer Kenny Clarke were just a few of the young talents who created the bebop movement together.

Feather on Charlie Parker

Leonard Feather once said that when people first heard Charlie Parker, "it was as if he'd arrived from another planet." During the years when Parker was bouncing from job to job without much public notice, other players knew and talked about him. His musical life made a quantum leap when he joined Earl Hines' band in 1943, where Dizzy Gillespie and other band members were given a free hand to try out new ideas. The moldy figs attacked "Bird" with vigor, calling his recordings of Ornithology and Night in Tunisia "dull" and "rather vulgar." They were outvoted.

The Sounds of Bebop

00:00 / 00:00
The Complete
Lester Young

Just You,
Just Me Just You, Just Me

Bebop and Bird

Carvin' the Bird Carvin' the Bird