On this day in 1920, Charlie "Yardbird" Parker (aka "Bird") was born in Kansas City, Kansas, the only child of Charles and Addie Parker. Charlie's father was a pianist on the vaudeville circuit and was absent for much of his early childhood. Yet Charlie still followed in his father's footsteps, picking up the saxophone at the age of 11 and began to diligently practice in the late 1930's; in an interview with fellow musician Paul Desmond, Bird said that he spent 3–4 years, during that period, practicing up to 15 hours a day!
In 1938 Parker began his recording career with the Jay McShann Band, which he also toured with including stops in Chicago and his future home New York City. The following year Charlie moved to NYC, working as a dishwasher to make ends meet. It was in New York that Charlie met Dizzy Gillespie whom he would famously play with throughout the next decade. These early years in NYC were key to the development of Charlie's playing, including one of his main musical innovations - that the twelve tones of the chromatic scale could lead melodically to any key, breaking the confines of simpler jazz soloing. This style of playing, honed in the after hours clubs of Harlem, such as Clark Monroe's Uptown House and Minton's Playhouse, became known as Bebop!
"Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom. If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn. They teach you there’s a boundary line to music. But, man, there’s no boundary line to art." - Bird