Celebrate Charlie Parker’s Birthday at American Jazz Museum

The heydays of Kansas City jazz date back to the early 1920s and the city’s 18th & Vine District. Charlie “Yardbird” Parker, was born August 29th, 1920 and grew up playing the saxophone in the district’s jazz clubs. Since they were open 24/7, Parker would hop from venue to venue, sometimes playing up to 15 hours a day. Throughout his career Parker played alongside jazz legends Jay McShann, Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, and others. His ability to play lightning fast solos dubbed him as one of the greatest saxophonists of the twentieth century.

To learn more about Parker and celebrate his birthday all month long, the American Jazz Museum presents an array of free programming opportunities!


Charlie Parker: Ready, Set, Bird! – Friday, Aug. 2nd

Charlie Parker: Bird’s The Word – Friday, Aug. 16th

Charlie Parker: Expectations of Bird – Saturday, Aug. 24th

Charlie Parker: Bird’s Fixings – Thursday, August 29th


Charlie Parker: Ready, Set, Bird!

Friday, August 2nd at 5:00 PM to 8:30 PM

Atrium, FREE

In partnership with Grace United Community Ministries Youth Education Initiatives, “Ready, Set, Bird!” features a social hour and music by local Kansas City jazz musicians.

  • 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM, social hour viewing photos, albums, and artifacts related to Parker. Refreshments provided.
  • 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM, Performances by saxophonist Ernest Melton and keyboardist Desmond Mason
  • 7:30 PM – 8:30 PM, Performance by vocalist Ida McBeth and Friends

Ernest Melton

Ernest picked up the saxophone at age 10 when he was enrolled in Longfellow Academy of the Arts in Kansas City, MO. Today he plays tenor saxophone in multiple Kansas City bands, citing Dexter Gordon, John Coltrane, Kenny Garrett and Pharoah Sanders as his major influences.

Desmond Mason

Desmond is a solo artist and the CEO of Out D. Park Productions, LLC, a music production company.

Ida McBeth

Ida’s repertoire includes pop-style ballads, jazz and blues, show tunes, funk, R&B, gospel and well known standards. With more than 50 years in the entertainment industry, Ida continues her influence on Kansas City jazz music.


Charlie Parker: Bird’s The Word

Friday, August 16th at 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM

Atrium, FREE

“Bird’s The Word” features poetry and a beatbox performance and workshop by local Kansas City artists.

  • 7:00 PM – 7:45 PM, original poetry by Mary Moore
  • 8:00 PM – 8:30 PM, beatbox performance and workshop by Luke Harbur
  • 8:30 PM – 9:00 PM, original poetry by Glenn North

Mary Moore

Mary has performed over 30 years, with audiences residing in Kansas City, the Midwest, Europe, and Africa. Her other passion lies in community activism, focusing on parents and homeless women in Kansas City’s urban core.

Luke Harbur

Beatboxing is creating drum sounds with your lips, teeth, tongue and throat. Luke started beatboxing when he was 10 years old. 14 years later he has performed in 11 different states, with a mission for audiences to find passion and happiness through their talents.

Glenn North

Glenn is the Direction of Recreation – Public Programs & Events at the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center and State Museum.


Charlie Parker: Expectations of Bird

Saturday, August 24th at 5:30 pm

Atrium, FREE

“Expectations of Bird” is an art showcase by Ron Chaney, owner of Ethnic Art Gallery, and artist Alexander Austin. Artwork will be for sale.


Charlie Parker: Bird’s Fixings

Thursday, August 29th at 5:00 pm

The Blue Room, FREE

In partnership with Marr Sound Archives and the Miller Nichols Library at The University of Missouri-Kansas City, “Bird’s Fixings” features a historic panel discussion about the life of Parker accompanied by Parker’s favorite food: chicken! There will be a cash bar at this event.

  • 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM, historic panel discussion about the life of Charlie Parker hosted by Chuck Haddix and Clarence Smith.

Chuck Haddix

Chuck is the curator of the Marr Sound Archives, a collection of 400,000 historic sound recordings housed in the Miller Nichols Library at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.  He hosts the “Fish Fry” a popular radio program featuring the finest in Americana, blues, soul, rhythm and blues, jumpin’ jive and zydeco on kcur.org FM 89.3, Kansas City’s public radio station, Friday and Saturday nights from 8:00 to midnight.

Clarence Smith

Clarence is coordinator of music at Metropolitan Community College-Penn Valley, where he teaches jazz history, music appreciation, and percussion. He also serves as Director of the Kansas City Jazz Academy, the American Jazz Museum’s youth program for jazz education.

Mutual Musicians Foundation

Tribute jam with the Mutual Musicians Foundation. The Mutual Musicians Foundation originally served as Kansas City’s Local 627 union, known as the African-American Musicians Union. Today it is dedicated to utilizing the city’s most recognized international product, jazz, for its past, present and future.


For more events happening at the American Jazz Museum, visit americanjazzmuseum.org/events