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'Charlie Parker's Yardbird' opera comes to KNKX

Seattle Opera's production of "Charlie Parker's Yardbird" opens Feb. 22, and we were thrilled to have the lead tenor Joshua Stewart come in for a conversation and a preview, with accompanist David McDade at the piano.

It's a timely opening for this opera about a jazz innovator. Charlie Parker would have been 100 years old this year on Aug. 29, and February is Black History Month. 

KNKX has been celebrating Black History Month by presenting stories about the lives and careers of African American artists, who have made major contributions to the jazz and blues worlds.  

We've also partnered with Seattle Opera for other Charlie Parker events this month, including a screening of the 1988 film "Bird" at SIFF Cinema Uptown on Feb. 20, and "188 Sullivan: Charlie Parker's New York in the 1950s," a program of music at The Royal Room featuring the D'vonne Lewis Quartet and Wayne Horvitz's Seattle Modern Orchestra, on Feb. 24. 

We talked with Joshua Stewart about the opera, Charlie Parker's influence on him and on all musicians, the differences in technique between singing opera and singing jazz, his roots in New Orleans, and his first visit to Seattle.

Joshua and David treated us to three selections from the opera: "Birdland," "Jazzman" and "Just Us Birds Trying To Fly." Joshua then graciously demonstrated his jazz chops, a cappella, for a lovely version of "Someone To Watch Over Me."

Enjoy this session where opera meets jazz!

Originally from Detroit, Robin Lloyd has been presenting jazz, blues and Latin jazz on public radio for nearly 40 years. She's a member of the Jazz Education Network and the Jazz Journalists Association.