Charlie Parker

1920 (Kansas City, Kans.) – 1955 (New York)

Davis, Gillespie and Roach played with Parker on his definitive bebop recordings; he first played with Gillespie in Hines’ band and then Eckstine’s, where Davis, still at school, got his first break. Gillespie was a particularly close and significant colleague, but temperamentally his polar opposite — Parker’s undisciplined unreliability eventually drove them apart and led Davis and Roach to quit his band. Young had been an idol in his early days — they later played together, as also did Monk, Mingus and Tatum, whose playing had led Parker to take a job washing dishes so he could study the pianist’s technique.

Charlie Parker knew…

Boris Vian

1920 (Ville d'Avray, France) – 1959 (Paris)

Camus, Sartre and Queneau met up with Vian in post-war Paris jazz clubs because of his friendships with American musicians (he preferred Sartre’s joviality to Camus’ sullenness). Davis and Ellington (a good friend) used him to liaise for them. He introduced Parker to Sartre, and collaborated with Milhaud on an opera. Prévert was a neighbour, Malle a friend, while Gréco (for whom he wrote songs, and introduced to Davis) called him her “incestuous brother”. He was a regular at Duras’ literary discussions, worked for Barclay, and formed a production company with his friend Queneau and his biographer Arnaud.