Graphic novel to tell story of Charlie Parker in Los Angeles

The story of jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker will be told in a new graphic novel arriving this September, just after the 100th anniversary of his birth.

Born on Aug. 29, 1920, in Kansas City, Parker was a revolutionary figure in jazz history. In his short life, he helped to dramatically change the course of American music, becoming a highly influential soloist and a leading figure in the development of bebop before his death at the age of 34.

Chasin’ the Bird: Charlie Parker in California, named after Parker’s 1947 standard, tells the story of his time in Los Angeles starting in December of 1945, when he and Dizzy Gillespie brought the bebop sound from the East Coast underground to the West Coast for a two-month residency at Billy Berg’s Hollywood jazz club.

Credit: Dave Chisholm and Peter Markowski, courtesy of Z2 Comics

It was a tumultuous and at times dark period for Parker, who spent two years in L.A. crashing on couches, wreaking havoc in public places and recording some of his best-known works, such as A Night in Tunisia, Ornithology and Relaxin’ at Camarillo.

Published by Z2 Comics, the book was written and illustrated by Dave Chisholm and coloured by DreamWorks Animation director Peter Markowski.

“I’ve had the time of my life writing and drawing this book, which has turned into an incredibly personal and meaningful project,” Chisholm said in a statement. “I am beyond excited to share this with the world and help spread the word about Bird’s wonderful music.”

Credit: Dave Chisholm and Peter Markowski, courtesy of Z2 Comics

Chasin’ the Bird will include an exclusive flexi-disc record featuring a recording from Parker’s time in Los Angeles. The deluxe limited edition will include a vinyl 45 with two tracks to be announced ahead of release.

In conjunction with the graphic novel, Verve Records/UMe are working on a new album spanning Bird’s time in Los Angeles, which will also be released in September.

You can pre-order the graphic novel at Z2 Comics.