Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Pens the Foreward to Z2 Comics’ Charlie Parker Graphic Novel

Chasin' the Bird

In honor of the 100th anniversary of Charlie “Bird” Parker’s birth, the life of the jazz icon will be told in the pages of an upcoming graphic novel to be released by Z2 Comics in late September, now with an introduction by basketball and cultural icon Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

During his short life, Bird changed the course of music. He was a pioneering composer and improviser who ushered in a new era of jazz and influenced subsequent generations of musicians, writers, and artists. Music industry legend Quincy Jones once said, “I believe that a hundred years from now, when people look back at the 20th century, they will view Bird, Miles and Dizzy as our Mozart, Bach, Chopin, and Tchaikovsky.”

Similarly, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s time in the NBA will remain one of the most celebrated eras in the history of the sport itself. Jabbar, a 6x world champion, holds the record as the NBA’s All-Time Leading Scorer, boasting 38,387 points in his twenty-year career. Since retiring in 1989, he has gone on to become a celebrated New York Times-best-selling author, filmmaker, ambassador of education, columnist and cultural commentator. As a social justice activist, Kareem was awarded The Presidential Medal of Freedom, our nation’s highest civilian honor by former President Barack Obama. As a student and Jazz historian, Kareem’s voice is the perfect introduction to the world of Charlie Parker in California.

This groundbreaking graphic novel tells the story of Bird’s time in L.A. starting in December 1945, where Bird and Dizzy Gillespie brought frenetic sounds of bebop from the East Coast jazz underground to the West Coast for a two-month residency at Billy Berg’s Hollywood jazz club. This marked the beginning of a tumultuous two year-stint for Bird bumming around L.A., showing up at jam sessions, crashing on people’s couches, causing havoc in public places, and recording some of his most groundbreaking tracks, “A Night in Tunisia” and “Ornithology,” as well as “Relaxin’ At Camarillo,” inspired by the end of his time in SoCal at the Camarillo State Hospital. The novel explores Bird’s relationship with the characters and events he encountered during his time in L.A. including recording some of his signature songs with Dial Record founder Ross Russell, a brief but influential stay at the home of famed jazz photographer William Claxton, a party for the ages at the ranch home of artist Jirayr Zorthian, and others who found themselves in the orbit of the jazz genius.

Chasin’ The Bird is being released during the centennial of Bird, dubbed Bird 100, as one of the many initiatives celebrating the extraordinary career of the trailblazing jazz icon, including exciting new music releases, festivals and events, prestigious exhibitions, special partnerships, exclusive collectible art, and myriad of independent appreciations and concerts. This special graphic novel, named for Charlie Parker’s 1947 standard, and adapts one of the sunnier, but darker chapters in the life of Bird, and is available for preorder now directly through the Z2 webstore. The deluxe limited edition includes a vinyl 45, and both are released in conjunction with a new album from Verve Records/UMG spanning Bird’s L.A. period. The details of the tracks accompanying the graphic novel, and the upcoming album will be announced soon.