Bird Lives! And He Does It in Fanatic Detail

NY radio jock keeps jazz boppin', stumps die-hard know-it-alls
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted May 17, 2008 6:38 PM CDT
Bird Lives! And He Does It in Fanatic Detail
Jazz pianist Thelonious Monk performs at the Newport Jazz Festival in Newport, R.I., in this July 5, 1963, file photo.   (AP Photo)

A white guy from Queens may be our best link to a music rooted in black history. Phil Schapp grew up in a home full of jazz, and has hosted a radio show obsessed with the music's minutiae for decades, the New Yorker reports. He's liable to digress on Charlie Parker's pronunciation of "Okiedoke," but that's an improvement: "For the first twenty years, I was concerned about telling you absolutely everything about every tune," he said.

Once labeled as “that most obsessive of anal obsessives,” Schaap remains unapologetic and chronically excited about a music that makes up only 3% of US music sales. Even his friend, biographer Stanley Crouch, admits Schaap can be annoying. “He is the Mr. Memory of jazz," Crouch said. "There are those who think he ought to be shot. He can get on your nerves, but, then, you can get on his.” (More Charlie Parker stories.)

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