The Levin/Wilson Controversy

Charlie Parker


An evaluation of a 1949 interview with Charlie Parker

In 1949, Michael Levin and John S. Wilson conducted an extensive interview with Charlie Parker for Downbeat that summed up his life and his career up to that point along with his musical hopes for the future.

The interview, which contains some of the innovative jazz artist’s most famous quotes, was also a bit controversial because he said that bebop had little connection with jazz, and he criticized Dizzy Gillespie’s commercial tendencies.

In this intriguing documentary, Andy Shaw reads the long article (which is illustrated in the film with many photos), discusses the jazz world’s reactions to Parker’s comments (including from Dizzy Gillespie), evaluates his comments and goes into great technical detail into what made Charlie Parker’s music innovative.

-Scott Yanow

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