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An annual celebration honoring the great jazz musician Charlie Parker returns to Kansas City

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Charlie Parker performs with his band at The Three Deuces in New York City in August 1947.

Every year, the jazz community comes together to commemorate saxophonist Charlie Parker with a series of jam sessions, tributes, tours and lectures.

The legacy of the Kansas City jazz scene can be summed up in two words: Charlie Parker.

Parker, who died in 1955, redefined the very sound of jazz, and his legacy endures.

The festival Spotlight: Charlie Parker has been held annually in Kansas City, Missouri, since 2014. The late saxophonist, nicknamed "Bird," will be celebrated in the days leading up to his Aug. 29 birthday.

The week-long event will feature live jazz shows, music boot camps, tours of his haunts in the city and exhibits at the American Jazz Museum.

Highlighting this year's festival are two young musicians with Kansas City roots, Morgan Faw and Houston Smith.

Talking with Steve Kraske, Smith said that Parker is far from dead.

"We still are able to hear who Charlie Parker is. Right?" Smith said. "So even though he's physically not here. His spirit and his sound and his contribution will live on."

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9 a.m., my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. My email is steve@kcur.org.
Reginald David is an assistant producer with Up To Date. You can reach him at reginalddavid@kcur.org.
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