Charlie Parker

One of the greatest jazz innovators of all time, Charlie Parker (1920-1955) is one of the few musicians who can be said to have permanently changed jazz. 

His style was influenced by Lester Young and his love for the blues, but his ideas were far more advanced than any of his contemporaries. Parker (who picked up the lifelong nickname of Bird) also had the ability to play perfectly coherent solos at ridiculously fast tempos. By the time he met his musical soulmate, trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, Bird was on his way to the top of jazz. Diz and Bird worked together in the big bands of Earl Hines and Billy Eckstine during 1943-1944 and created a sensation in 1945, both in their live performances in 52nd Street clubs and in their recordings. Due to their stunning playing, bebop replaced swing as the jazz mainstream.