Talks at Google: Sheila Jordan and Vincent Herring discuss Charlie "Bird" Parker at 100 years old
I have to admit that I was a bit surprised, and I was very disappointed, when there was no Google Doodle celebrating the life of Charlie Parker on what would have been his 100th birthday: Saturday, August 29th, 2020. I thought to myself "if anyone has earned a celebration of his centennial, it would be Charlie Parker, a man who changed how all jazz musicians, and many musicians from other genres, approached their instruments". In my mind, Charlie Parker made the seemingly impossible both tangible, and within reach. Had there been no Charlie Parker, there would have been no John Coltrane, or Phil Woods, or Hank Crawford, or Michael Brecker, or Sharel Cassity, or Branford Marsalis, or Roxy Coss, or Francesco Cafiso, or scores of other great saxophonists: not as we currently know them. Charlie Parker was like a shining beacon, or a laser beam, that brought both clarity and direction: he showed generations of musicians a clear and confident path forward.
Life works in very mysterious ways, and it is very obvious to me that there is a Massive Intelligence that works both unseen, and behind the scenes. That Intelligent Being helps us at times, and at times holds us back so that we can learn an important lesson, and receive a powerful message: Don't quit; don't give up; Someone very powerful loves you, and is ALWAYS cheering for you in the background. If you stay in faith, you will suffer tribulations, but you will triumph in the end, if you believe. I believe that for every pain that Charlie Parker suffered, every humiliation, every defeat, every tragedy: 1 Person witnessed ALL of it. And that Person gave him the strength to endure that suffering, and the strength to play outpourings of raw unfettered genius night after night.
I was shocked and humbled to find out that Google neither ignored nor forgot about Charlie Parker's Centennial.
Talks at Google
"Talks at Google" is series of talks with influential thinkers hosted by Google for the consumption of Google's employees. Luckily, Google makes these talks publicly available to everyone via YouTube. The diversity of topics, and the diversity of guests on Talks at Google is very impressive. I scrolled through the Talks at Google YouTube page, and I found that there are 13 years worth of videos, with topics ranging from music, to journalism, to psychology, to marketing, to business administration, and much more. It appears that the very first Talk at Google was posted on February 26, 2007: a talk with then presidential candidate Hillary Clinton: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwYKIsJwi2c
Sheila Jordan and Vincent Herring discuss Charlie Parker at 100
There is not much that I can say about the video that would add to its excellence: it speaks for itself. Please enjoy the video:
About Sheila Jordan:
Ms. Sheila Jordan is a world-renowned singer and songwriter who specializes in jazz music. She was born on Sunday, November 18, 1928. Charlie Parker was one of the people who recognized Jordan's immense talent early on: she spent her formative teenage years in Detroit, Michigan, and she met Parker for the first time in her teens when he came to Detroit to perform. She had learned to sing many of his songs, and she had put much of his music to words. She became a close friend of Charlie Parker and his family after she moved to New York, and she ended up marrying Duke Jordan, a pianist who played in one of Charlie Parker's bands. She has enjoyed a seven-decades-plus musical career. I heard a story once that Sheila was a frequent Sunday dinner guest at Charlie Parker's home in the mid-1950s when Charlie Parker and his wife Chan, and their children, lived at 151 Avenue B across the street from New York's Tompkins Square Park. She is one of the ever-shrinking list of people still alive who knew Bird personally.
About Vincent Herring:
Mr. Vincent Herring is a globally-respected and revered alto saxophonist and flautist who was born on Thursday, November 19, 1964 in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. He received a musical scholarship to California State University, Chico at the age of 16, and won the lead alto saxophone position in the Jazz Knights, a United States Military Academy band at age 17. Mr. Herring has been on my radar since I heard his amazing album "Secret Love" in the mid-1990s. I absolutely love Herring's 1999 album "Jobim for Lovers". He is one of those saxophonists that I can immediately recognize upon hearing one or two notes. Herring has played with an incredible list of musical heavyweights: Nat Adderley, Freddie Hubbard, Nancy Wilson, Phil Woods, Dr. Billy Taylor, and many many more.