Charlie Parker, also known as Bird or Yardbird, was without question the most influential jazz saxophonist of the 20th century. Born in Kansas City and raised in the blue-drenched culture of the mid-west he mastered his instrument as none had done before and invented a revolutionary way of approaching melody and harmony. Along with Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk he lifted jazz out of its "dance music" function in the swing era and brought it to a new aesthetic height. He spawned generations of musical disciples and imitators and his influence can still be felt today.
He is the central figure in Saving Charlie Parker.
Michael Newman and his wife Jean live in McAlester Oklahoma. Michael is recently retired and prior to the Covid 19 traveled regularly to Oklahoma City and Tulsa for weekend gigs. His main teaching assignment had been music theory but his love was jazz. In September of 2020 Michael took a fall down the stairs in their home.
Michael and Jean have recently been obsessed with restoring an historic home.
Massey Hall in Toronto is the site of what was called the Greatest Jazz Concert Ever. The concert was the last time Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker appeared on stage.
The quintet included three other great bebop icons: Bud Powell on piano, Charles Mingus on bass, and Max Roach on drums. Bird, having arrived without an instrument performed on a borrowed plastic alto saxophone.
Three astrophysicists help Michael Newman travel back in time. Matt Hiscock at the University of Arkansas and Kyriakos Papadakis and Ric Van Brendel in Europe. Dr. Matt Hiscock explains the theory of "time wormholes" to Michael: "As particles are pulled into a black hole, they may approach or attain the speed of light, in which case time is altered. Under Einstein's theory of general relativity, gravity bends time." As it turns out the two in Europe are not only brilliant scientists but also jazz fans.
Ann Melton is owner of the Rise and Shine Coffee Shop and Carl Hougland is the barista who eventually introduces Michael Newman to Turtle, the drug dealer who supplies the professor with the oxycodone he needs to trigger the transtemporal travel.
John Coltrane and Howard McGee were greatly influenced by Charlie Parker. Little known is the fact that John Coltrane took part in a jam session at Lester Young's "family home" in Los Angeles in March of 1947 following Charlie Parker's release from Camarillo State Hospital. This is documented in the Vail's book The Charlie Parker Diary. It is likely that trumpeter Howard McGee would have attended as well since he was the person who had "looked after" Bird during his traumatic 14 months in Los Angeles.
The Civic Hotel was located in the heart of what became known, during the Second World War, as Bronzeville. At the beginning of the war tens of thousands of African Americans poured into Los Angeles to work in the defense industry. They quickly filled the empty space left in what had been known as Little Tokyo as Japanese Americans who had been moved to interment camps. The Civic Hotel was Charlie Parker's last place of residence prior to his arrest in 1946.
Musser's Ozark Resort just south of Eldon, Missouri was the scene of the the Thanksgiving 1936 gig that led to the car accident that killed George Willingham and severly injured a sixteen-year-old Charlie Parker.