When mentioning Charlie Parker, the first association is the king of jazz on the saxophone. Also known as Yardbird and Bird, Parker was American highly talented jazz saxophonist and composer, and a leading figure in the development of bebop, a form of jazz characterized by fast tempos, virtuosic technique, and improvisation. And till date, bebop has been America’s most important and successful artistic movements. And now, the saxophone that belonged to this legendary musician is going to be offered for sale at Michaan’s auctions and is expected to get around $30,000-35,000.
There is a fascinating story about his saxophone. Bill Hood, famous jazz musician was one of Parker’s friends along with other music greats, Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan and Marty Paich. Bill Hood’s daughter, Jenifer who has inherited iconic saxophone after his death, intrigued to discover the connection of Parker to the saxophone when she ran into interesting series of events surrounding the jazz great’s instrument.
Hood and Parker worked togheter at a Portland jazz club, when Parker showed up at the gig without his instrument. When Hood asked where it was Parker replied that he had pawned it. Hood couldn’t believe Parker had parted with his right arm. Parker replied that if it was so important to him he was welcome to have it. He then handed Hood the pawn ticket and the rest is history.
Several details proving the truth of the story and are verified by Jazz historian Bob Dietsche who incidentally appeared on a famous PBS Television show called “History’s Detectives”. It was found that all facts and figures surrounding the instrument, right from its serial number down to Jazz musician accounts corroborated with the actual timeline of events. The strongest link which confirmed the saxophone’s true ownership came from the pawn shop. Apparently, it is the only pawnshop in Portland which dates back to the 1950s. The owner of the shop, when contacted, seemed to recall every single occasion where Parker visited his store.
Charlie Parker’s saxophone will be available at Michaan’s Auctions in the Modern and Fine Furniture and Decorations Auction on June 8. Previews will be held from June 1 until the day of sale. [Michaan's Auctions]