Ornithology (composition)

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Single by The Charlie Parker Septet
B-side "A Night in Tunisia"
Recorded March 28, 1946, Radio Recorders Studios, Hollywood
Genre Bebop
Length 3:03
Label Dial
Writer(s) Charlie Parker
Benny Harris

"Ornithology" is a famous jazz standard by bebop alto saxophonist Charlie Parker and trumpeter Benny Harris.

Its title is a reference to Parker's nickname, "Bird" (ornithology means the study of birds). The Charlie Parker Septet made the first recording of the tune on March 28, 1946 on the Dial label, and it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1989.[1]

"Ornithology" is a contrafact – a newly created melody written over the chord progression of another song, in this case the standard "How High the Moon". It remains one of the most popular and frequently performed bebop tunes. Jazz vocalists scatting on "How High the Moon" (notably Ella Fitzgerald) often quote the melody of "Ornithology" (and vice versa).

Notable recordings include Bud Powell's version. Vocalese "lyrics" were also created by Babs Gonzales.

"Ornithology" was prominently featured in the novel Suder by Percival Everett.


See also[edit]