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on 27 September 2000
I read this book because I was interested in finding out about Charlie Parker, after reading Ian Carr's Miles Davis biography, and reading how highly Miles rated Bird. This book is at least the other's equal, and tells a harrowing story of a man way ahead of his time spiralling into a drugs hell. A great read, it will improve your knowledge of jazz history in Parker's revolutionary times, and your appreciation of the man's music (often hard to follow, but ultimately rewarding) while drawing you into the far more personal aspect of the destruction of a man, often betrayed by a world not yet ready for him.
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on 20 July 1999
The opening chapter is marvellous. A fictional account of Benedetti recording Bird in action. The rest of the book is good too, but much of it has to be taken with a pinch of salt. Russell has been credited with creating many of the myths surrounding Parker and his life. I wonder if this has anything to do with the fact that Russell holds copyright on all the Dial recordings? A good story, but the Charlie Parker Companion is a much more factual and interesting and not imbued with as much artistic licence.
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on 29 December 1998
This book is a very fun book to read. It's written in novel form, as well, and you can just think of how Parker's life must have been like. But the problem is with Russell, that he seems to be building his book too much around myths. This makes the book fun too read, but you can just wonder if it's true or not. For example, Russell made Benedetti a much better sax player than he originally was, which makes us so incredibly impressed over Charlie PArker, that it's unbelievable. But don't get me wrong, Charlie Parker is a jazz titan, and he really knew his stuff, but if Russell had documented every source of information, lots of things, I believe, would have been erased. Then the book would be a bit more boring. But read it, because it describes the atomesphere of the late-40s America, very well.
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on 8 June 1996
Charlie Parker was a troubled genius, a brilliant musician and Jazz giant who's influence

transcends his life and times. He was also a product of the social, political and family

environment in which he lived. Ross Russell's lucid biography skillfully presents Parker's

life in it's appropriate context. More than simply cataloging the events of his life, Russell

illucidates how Parker influenced, and was influenced by, his world. Russell refrains from

rationalizing or passing judgement on Parker's self-destructive and sociopathic behavior's or

overly glorifying his work. However, he does not shy away from providing a clear picture of the

power of his genius and the negative influences of his troubled personality. An outstanding book

which is a must read for Jazz enthusiasts and students of American culture.

Charles Saxe, Chicago, Illinois
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on 5 February 1998
Though it's been 20 yrs, it seems like I read this book yesterday. Not only an indepth insight into one of the greatest artists in history, the book captures the feel of 'The Street' during the Bebop era, and also of the tortured man who re-shaped our music. I recommend you take the bandstand with Bird and write the publisher so that they might print more copies. An example of the books insight is how Russell describes Dean Benedetti who gave up his career as a sideman on alto sax to follow Parker around with a wire recorder only recording Bird's solos and noone else's. Such was his commitment to the music and so is mine. Enjoy!
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on 5 January 2012
I bought this for my husband who is a huge fan of Charlie Parker, I was worried it may be similar to other books he has read about this musician. However I need not have worried as it is a much more in depth study of his life with more information than in other books. He was very pleased with it
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on 31 August 2016
I enjoyed this very much as it covered his early life and influences and gave a comprehensive overview of his career and musical developments. As I have little music education I wasn't able to follow the detailed musical discussions, but there was enough in it to keep me enthralled.
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on 8 May 2009
A fast paced book concerning some of the most fantastic subject matter this reader has ever encountered. The first chapter may indeed be a fictional representaion of one of Bird's assiciates however this does not detract from the book at all. In the 40's Ross Russell was a multi-faceted entrepreneur and incredible Jazz enthusiast, an interesting individual in his own right, who had the direction to create a record label initially for the sole purpose of recording and distributing Charlie Parker. I have no doubt that Russell will have taken artistic license on some of the stories however those who have done prior research on Charlie Parker know that he did indeed get up to serious mischief as well as being by far musics most outstanding soloist of the century until the emergence of Jimi Hendrix.
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on 19 November 2013
Bought as a present for my son. I have had a copy for many years and have read it a couple of times. Recommended obviously to anyone who likes jazz, but also to those who like biography. A remarkable life.
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on 30 December 2014
i bought this book for my father for christmas, he was really pleased with it
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