Fuasi Abdul-Khaliq

Lifelight Productions & Publications


Yardbird's Vamp 

Is both a musical and a „poetic“ drama about Charlie "Yardbird" Parker's life. It shows aspects of his life and his genius as a virtuoso and composer.
The life history of this African-American jazz musician is shared with the audience through the memories and flashbacks of the musicians who lived and performed with him on the band stand. The play gives the audience a glimpse into the spiritual and social forces working around Bird. It expounds on the legends this famous saxophonist and inventor of „Bebop“, who has struggled throughout his career against racism, poverty, drugs and death. 
"Yardbird's Vamp" is set in a jazz club in New York around 1940. Charlie Parker’s character,
Bird, is mute and only speaks through his horn. His life’s story is told through the statements, comments and explanations of four musicians, the Angel of Death,„Baron Cemetery“ and the character „Face“.
The characters in the „Vamp“ are:
Baron Cemetery is a VooDoo version of death, Lord of the restless spirits. 
Face assumes several characters... the nurturing mother... a band singer... an earthy realist and a white socialite.  
Bebop (Trombone): An optimist, professor of Bebopism... shades of Dizzy Gillespie.
Bigger (Drums): A driving, near violent force... shades of Max Roach.
Cool (Bass): Waivers between practical and cynical... madness of Monk and Mingus.
Trick (Piano): A good musician but a muddled thinker, often gives the illusion of being white.
The musical compositions in the „Vamp“ are a combination of traditional "Bebop" chords, with newly composed "themes" performed with exciting improvisations... An homage to the classic innovations of Charlie Parker. The message of the texts, their poetry and prose give evidence about the struggle and the vision of a jazz musician, his music to create and carry forward against all obstacles, and always honest, fresh and stay on the cutting edge of genius.
Although this music-theater piece set in the 40s, it has not lost its topicality. Racism, poverty, drugs and death are also a hot topic today, and this not only among artists and other jazz musicians. It affects us all.