Live Bird is a one-man play written by playwright, director and saxophonist Jeff Robinson celebrating the life of jazz legend and alto saxophonist Charlie “Bird” Parker. The play takes place in a bar in Harlem, NY in 1954. Jeff as Bird talks about his days in Kansas City, Missouri with imaginary characters, imitates Lester Young and plays some of his songs.
Live Bird made its debut at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) in Boston MA. in March of 1995. Jeff read just about everything written about Charlie Parker while he was researching for the play. He sent the finished script to jazz legends Max Roach and Jackie McLean, who both loved what they read and encouraged him to work on a full production.
The debut production at the ICA also featured commissioned paintings of Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holliday and other jazz icons by world renowned NYC artist the late Martha Glinski.
Jeff has performed the play in the Charlie Parker Festival in NYC, the Charlie Parker Celebration in Kansas City Missouri, the Clifford Brown Festival in Wilmington Delaware, the Lowell Celebrates Kerouac Festival in Lowell Massachusetts, Berklee College of Music in Boston MA, the world famous 22 West Nightclub in Harlem, NY and the Gem Theater in Charlie Parker’s childhood neighborhood in Kansas City Missouri and other festivals and theaters around the USA.
Robinson received a nomination for an Independent Reviewers of New England Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Charlie Parker in Live Bird.
Jeff had the pleasure of performing the play in Harlem NYC, and Doris Parker the late widow of Charlie Parker was in the audience. She loved his performance so much she befriended Robinson and gave him this quote:
“I knew Charlie as a man and not simply as a musical genius. Jeff portrays the Charlie I knew.”
Mr. Robinson also had the wonderful experience of performing the play at the Green Lady Lounge in Charlie Parker’s hometown Kansas City and Bird’s daughter Kim Parker was in the audience. She, like Doris, loved his performance so much that she befriended Robinson and gave him this quote
“He got him! He caught the spirit and sound of Bird, from the tone of his voice to the sound of his saxophone. Live Bird lifted me. I was touched by the play and Jeff’s performance. Brilliantly constructed.”