Charlie "Bird" Parker blew the sound of his soul through his alto and tenor sax, and for many musicians, hearing his music was like a religious conversion. He is immortalized as jazz music's "first existential hero," a blazing talent that burned out at age 35 from heroin, alcohol, and racism.
Billie Holiday's troubled life colored every phrase she sang, and she brought her listeners to moments of joy that soothed the worst heartache. No matter how lousy a hand life deals you, one song from Billie reminds you that she had it worse and still, somehow, remained beautiful. The woman whose sou
Constantly surprising and consistently visionary, composer and bandleader Duke Ellington was the rare performer who was both a consummate entertainer and a musical genius respected by his peers. Ellington's orchestra, which he led for 50 years, was a showcase for his vision and a springboard for a lo
There are two mutually exclusive opinions regarding jazz musician Ornette Coleman. By some he is considered a visionary genius, representing the "third spur" of the Modernist revolution -- "a shift in approach to melody and rhythm to match Coltrane's skyscraping harmonics and Cecil Taylor's introduct