Transcription: Charlie Parker, 1943 “Cherokee”

by Alessandra “Mariela” Versola

About this Recording

Charlie Parker, alto saxophone
Efferge Ware, guitar
Phil Phillips, drums
1943, Vic Damon Studio, Kansas City

The tune “Cherokee” was written by Ray Noble in 1938 for his “Indian Suite.” This specific recording is a bootleg recording from 1943, during the recording ban. This is a rare glimpse at early bebop history. Because of the ban, there is much we do not know about the beginnings and early development of bebop innovators. Bird, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Christian, Thelonious Monk, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, and Don Byas are among the artists of whom we are missing pieces to the puzzle of Bop history. “Cherokee”, recorded with Efferge Ware on the guitar, provides a study of the early phrasing, time, vocabulary, and inflection of a young Charlie Parker- between his big band swing roots and the invention of Bebop.

About this Transcription

My process for transcribing this solo began with jotting down a rough outline of Bird’s lines. I finished learning it by ear before entering it into Finale NotePad for my final draft for BackBeat Magazine.

I have included changes for the first chorus- there are three. The changes will appear in the “Concert Changes” attachment as they sound in the recording and are slightly different than the Real Book. I could not enter accents or turns with my software.

“Cherokee” Bird 1943 – C Instruments

“Cherokee” Bird 1943 – Bb Instruments

“Cherokee” Bird 1943 – Eb Instruments

“Cherokee” Bird 1943 – Concert Changes
As transcribed by Mariela

Until next time,
Swing sisters, swing!
– The Jazz Girls –


  1. Thanks so much for this. Just discovered this beautiful version and was searching for info on the guitarist when I came across your transcription.

  2. Great, on bar 16 first 4 notes are A, F, C#, A Not A, F, D, Bb (Concert Key version), basically it’s an F Augmented Descending Arpeggio, but great transcription!

  3. Reblogged this on k2quill and commented:
    Checking out Charlie Parker’s “Cherokee”. He is said to be an inspiration to Ted Prillaman and the Virginia Ramblers

  4. Great to see the transcription in concert and both Bb and Eb! I’m transcribing it for C instruments at the moment and like the above poster mentioned there’s a few mistakes throughout, not trying to be a negative Nancy, just thought I’d let you know! You’re welcome to have a look at mine when I’m finished. Great work either way!

    1. Hey Joshua! Thanks for checking out our post and letting us know about the mistakes. Have you had a chance to finish your C version? Would you like us to post it here as well when you are all set? Take care! -Ella

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