Synopses & Reviews
Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker
is the first installment in the long-awaited portrait of one of the most talented and influential musicians of the twentieth century, from Stanley Crouch, one of the foremost authorities on jazz and culture in America.
Throughout his life, Charlie Parker personified the tortured American artist: a revolutionary performer who used his alto saxophone to create a new music known as bebop even as he wrestled with a drug addiction that would lead to his death at the age of thirty-four.
Drawing on interviews with peers, collaborators, and family members, Kansas City Lightning recreates Parkers Depression-era childhood; his early days navigating the Kansas City nightlife, inspired by lions like Lester Young and Count Basie; and on to New York, where he began to transcend the music he had mastered. Crouch reveals an ambitious young man torn between music and drugs, between his domineering mother and his impressionable young wife, whose teenage romance with Charlie lies at the bittersweet heart of this story.
With the wisdom of a jazz scholar, the cultural insights of an acclaimed social critic, and the narrative skill of a literary novelist, Stanley Crouch illuminates this American master as never before.
Winner of the Prose Award for Humanities
Finalist for the NAACP Image Award
Finalist for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award
A Kirkus Reviews
Best Book of the Year
No musician has lived a more transformational, or tragic, life than Charlie Parker, one of the most talented and influential figures of the twentieth century. Drawing on decades of original interviews with peers, collaborators, and family members, Stanley Crouch reveals Parker as he was: from the dance clubs of late-night Kansas City, where he learned his craft, to the ballrooms of wartime Harlem, it offers an unprecedented window into the world—and intimate life—of the young genius.
About the Author
Stanley Crouch has twice been nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award, for his essay collections Notes of a Hanging Judge and The All-American Skin Game. His other books include Always in Pursuit, The Artificial White Man, and the acclaimed novel Don't the Moon Look Lonesome. He has served on and off as the artistic consultant for jazz programming at Lincoln Center, is the president of the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.