Azure Miles Records ~ the Music of Michael Robinson

Writings about Music by Michael Robinson


Bird's Blitzkrieg: the Influence of Charlie Parker

It’s interesting to read various viewpoints on this subject. Personally, I believe that American jazz, followed by American and British rock and other "popular" forms, superseded Western “classical music” intellectually, technically, expressively, and spiritually beginning around the time of Charlie Parker; a revolutionary musician who Stanley Crouch has brilliantly described as “Kansas City Lightning” in a new book I have not yet read. In fact, venturing outside the realm of music, I sometimes wonder if Charlie Parker’s music somehow assisted American consciousness to defeat the dreaded Blitzkrieg of Nazi Germany by imparting a previously unknown intensity, speed, and fantastical precision. (I do not know if England and Russia were familiar with Parker’s music during this period.)

Similar to my extra-musical speculation about the power of Bird’s influence, I have felt that John Coltrane’s music was a central spiritual force behind the ending of the Vietnam War, and the Civil Rights Movement. I once had opportunity to share this thought with Jack DeJohnette, who performed with Trane, and he concurred with my sentiment.

Music created by, and spawned by Parker, followed by John Coltrane, represents the most powerful influences on composers of our time together with the classical music of India. This includes those influenced by the music of Steve Reich and other “minimalists”, who owe this debt as well, regardless of how cognizant they may be of primary sources. Even Milton Babbitt, following in the tradition of Schoenberg and Webern, etc., acknowledged the enormous influence of jazz on his musical output.

So, as you see, my personal perspective on current compositional voices is more how they relate to jazz, rock, other "popular" forms, and the traditional music of India and other world cultures, as opposed to each other, which is like discussing ice cream and steak by forgetting that they both emanate from cows.

- Michael Robinson, November 2013, Los Angeles

Michael Robinson is a Los Angeles-based composer who also writes and lectures about jazz, computer-electronic music composition, Indian classical music, and other musical genres.

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