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LISTEN: The Annual '21 Sax Salute' Graveside Celebration Of Charlie Parker

Bill Brownlee
Plastic Sax
Decorations on Charlie Parker's grave stone at Lincoln Cemetery

For decades, Kansas City's jazz community has celebrated Charlie Parker's birthday with a musical tribute at his grave site in Lincoln Cemetery.  In recent years that's taken the form of a "21 Sax Salute" — only with a lot of instruments besides saxophones, and a lot more than 21.

Credit C.J. Janovy / KCUR
Kim Parker, daughter of Charlie Parker, wiped away tears as she listened to the '21 Sax Salute' to her father at his grave site in Lincoln Cemetery.

This year's salute capped the city’s second annual Charlie Parker Celebration — more than a week of panel discussions, a tour of significant Parker locations around town and shows at area clubs.

“It’s breathtaking. It’s breathtaking,” an emotional Kim Parker said of the graveside tribute to her father. “It’s just so heartwarming to see that jazz is still alive. It’s beautiful.”

To hear the musical tribute, along with the New Orleans-style second-line procession at the beginning and end of the celebration, listen to the story:

Central Standard Charlie Parker
A free press is among our country’s founding principles and most precious resources. As director of content-journalism at KCUR, I want everyone in our part of America to know we see them and we’re listening. I work to make sure the stories we tell and the conversations we convene reflect our complex realities, informing and inspiring all of us to meet the profound challenges of our time. Email me at cj@kcur.org.