Chasing the Bird: Charlie Parker in California by Dave Chisholm

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The graphic novel tells the story of Bird’s time in L.A. starting in December 1945, where
Bird and Dizzy Gillespie brought frenetic sounds of bebop from the East Coast jazz
underground to the West Coast for a two-month residency at Billy Berg’s Hollywood
jazz club. This marked the beginning of a tumultuous two year-stint for Bird bumming
around L.A., showing up at jam sessions, crashing on people’s couches, causing havoc
in public places, and recording some of his most groundbreaking tracks, “A Night in
Tunisia” and “Ornithology,” as well as “Relaxin’ At Camarillo,” inspired by the end of his
time in SoCal at the Camarillo State Hospital. The novel explores Bird’s relationship
with the characters and events he encountered during his time in L.A. including
recording some of his signature songs with Dial Record founder Ross Russell, a brief
but influential stay at the home of famed jazz photographer William Claxton, a party for
the ages at the ranch home of artist Jirayr Zorthian, and others who found themselves
in the orbit of the jazz genius.

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