Bird Rites

Bird Rights

Bird Writes

Byrd 'rights

whichever is
     That's a-right.  It's amazing how much mail comes in about the asterisk on the Bird page.  So many tell me Charlie Parker wrote "Donna Lee."  It must be true since The OmniBook cites Bird as the author, so does every other version of the song I've ever seen that lists writers.  To me it's a Jaco tune, and even he gives credit to the alto genius.  I added that asterisk to the Parker page, and put the "Miles Davis?" on the notation for the Donna Lee clyp, because Miles Davis wrote in his autobiography, "I wrote a tune for the album called 'Donna Lee,' which was the first tune of mine that was ever recorded. But when the record came out it listed Bird as the composer. It wasn't Bird's fault, though. The record company just made a mistake and I didn't lose no money or nothing." *
     In a related matter, related that is by a friend, I heard that Dizzy Gillespie when asked in an interview, "Come on, Diz. Tell us who wrote 'Donna Lee'," smiled his little puffy-cheek smile and said "Me."  That's what I meant by "...a Parker tune is a Bird song is a..." To us it's Parker's tune because it's a Bird song.  Charlie Parker also wrote tunes like "All the Things You Are," written by... who was is it?  Jerome Kern?  It just doesn't matter who wrote it---unless, as Miles suggests, we talk about the money.
     So most of you are correct.  But I'm not gonna call that mf a liar.  On the other hand, "Donna Lee" is on the Charlie Parker page and not on the Miles Davis page.
     Below is an excerpt from an email from someone know as ~wHiTeLiOn~

...Miles Davis, no doubt. Check every single tune Parker wrote - NO other tune resembles "Donna Lee" in terms of phrasing, and in terms of lack of repitition within the 32-bar melody. It sounds more like a chorus of an improvised Bird Solo than a composed piece. 

I once was told that Donna Lee was, in fact, a Parker solo that someone transcribed. I think that this is closer to, yet still NOT, the Truth; look at how the composer seems to have gone out of his way to include almost EVERY SINGLE BE-BOP Device that one could fit into 32 bars : the chromatic surrounding notes that begin the phrase just before Bar 5 (and what a long phrase that is! 3 bars - show me another Parker composition that has a single phrase as long as that!); the classic Be-bop Tension notes in Bars 13 and (particularly) 14; the chromatic upwards-spiralling line through bars 25-26 (certainly a device Parker used in his improvisations, but not his compositions); Again, this line begins just before bar 25 and continues as one VERY LONG PHRASE until beat 1 of Bar 30.
It is almost as if someone has written a Be-bop STUDY by taking as many Parker-isms as possible and applying an almost THEORETICAL Be-bop approach to assembling VERY LONG PHRASES (it is Meticulously Crafted; a LOT of thought has gone into it), ultimately coming up with a "composed solo" over the changes of "Indiana" - a tune Parker blew over RELATIVELY infrequently.
It's as though Donna Lee was put together by an ambitious, almost over-eager, though very knowledgeable STUDENT of Be-Bop - a description that fits a 19 year-old MILES DAVIS perfectly!
Well, that's my two cents anyhow.....hope you appreciate my points! Keep up the great work!
Bird Lves!
Regards, ~wHiTeLiOn~





*  (pp. 103-104 of the softcover First Touchstone Edition September 1990)