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It was Charlie Parker, known to fans and fellow musicians as "Bird," the dynamic creative personality and genius of the alto saxophone, who served as the inspiration for Birdland. When the original Birdland opened fifty years ago this December, Charlie Parker was the headliner and the club was located on Broadway, a few blocks west of 52nd Street, which was a hotbed of jazz in the 30s and 40s.

In addition to Bird, many jazz legends were regulars at the club. Count Basie and his smokin' big band made Birdland their New York headquarters, eventually recording George Shearing's "Lullaby of Birdland" live at the club. John Coltrane's classic Quartet regularly appeared at the club in the early 60s, recording "Live at Birdland." And the infamous Symphony Sid Torin made a name for himself broadcasting live from the club to radio listeners up and down the eastern seaboard.

When the midtown scene changed in the early 60s, the club closed its doors. But Birdland awoke uptown in 1986 at 2745 Broadway, on the corner of 105th Street. In ten years, more than 2,000 emerging artists performed at the club. On many occasions, artists who performed at the original club on 52nd street graced the stage of the second version of Birdland as well.

In the 90s, the Birdland banner has been reborn in midtown. The new Birdland offers top-flight jazz in a world class setting--good sight lines and acoustics, elbow room, and a menu ripe with award winning Southern Cuisine. Since the reemergence of the club, midtown Manhattan has been treated to some of the best jazz on the planet, including memorable sets by such musicians as Michael Brecker, Pat Metheny, Roy Haynes, Lee Konitz, Mark Murphy, Kevin Mahogany, Dave Holland, and Tito Puente, as well as the big bands of Chico O'Farrell, Toshiko Akiyoshi, and Maria Schneider. Many can be heard on demand, right here on GMN.

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One cold dark night
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