Bird Boot Camp

Bird Boot Camp

August 21, 2021 @ 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Folly Theater
300 West 12th Street
Kansas City
MO 64105

Bird Boot Camp has been a significant applied instrumental music program element that’s been part of the annual August spotlight celebration of Jazz celebrity, globally recognized musical icon, and Kansas native, Charlie “Bird” Parker, that takes place at venues throughout the greater KC metro since 2014.

It’s going to be another all-day educational immersion into learning about the music and life of Mr. Parker on Saturday, August 21, 2021 at another historic Kansas City icon, The Folly Theater.

Our Bird Boot Camp 2021 “featured celebrity” artist is Ronald McFadden from the legendarily brilliant McFadden Brothers’ frame. Ronald will interact with the campers musically and lead the Musical Salute in the lobby of The Folly at the end of the event.

Bird Boot Camp 2021 features three combination group ensembles in breakout sessions as they study a particular Charlie Parker composition in detail with some of the foremost educators teaching jazz anywhere today:

“Now’s The Time” by Charlie Parker (combo directed by Prof. Clarence Smith – Kansas City Jazz Academy and Metropolitan Community College Music) for the newest jazz musicians;

“Yardbird Suite” by Charlie Parker (combo directed by Dr. Todd Wilkinson – Ottawa University Music) for the intermediate jazz musicians;

and, “Donna Lee” by Charlie Parker (combo directed by Dr. Michael Parkinson – Conn-Selmer Artist and MidAmerica Nazarene University Jazz) for more experienced jazz musicians at the day camp.

Each of the combos will enjoy three scheduled clinics with their directors engaged in detailed study of the music, and one of the sessions will be on the main stage of The Folly Theater performing with an all-star jazz rhythm section comprised of: Gerald Spaits (bass – Jay McShann, Westport Art Ensemble, UMKC Adjunct Professor); Will Mathews (guitar – The World Famous Count Basie Orchestra, Grammy Winner); Dr. Justin Binek (piano – Midnight Blue Jazz Quartet and Assistant Professor of Music, Kansas City Community College Jazz Studies); and Doug Auwarter (drums – the Sons of Brasil). Students will also be able to interact with these jazz celebrities and living master musicians in person.

Keynote Address and Special Full Camp Jazz Clinic 

Bird Boot Camp 2021 is going to be great. We’ll also have leading “Charlie Parker” historian and author, Chuck Haddix, give a 20-minute keynote about Bird; and, Greg Carroll will give the campers interactive jazz clinic that he does with Midnight Blue Jazz LLC each year in Las Vegas. And a few surprise guests!

Bird Boot Camp History

Bird Boot Camp began in 2014 as part of the original Charlie Parker celebration that was initiated by the Jazz catalyst nonprofit organization, Kansas City Jazz A.L.I.V.E. The originator of the Bird Boot Camp program was Greg Carroll, who successfully modeled the one-day educational event after some of the premier jazz camps and other music education programming he’d developed or initiated at various points in his professional career over the years. Spotlighting the life and musical contributions of Charlie Parker, Jr. (b. August 29, 1920, Kansas City, Kansas – d. March 12, 1955, New York, New York) by the entire greater Kansas City metropolitan area community was also considered to be long overdue among this initial consortium of noted artists, educators, Jazz venue owners, and arts institutions in the region. In 2019, Burnett Music Foundation, a relatively new Jazz nonprofit organization, was asked to take over the program and has assumed the role of artistic director and administrator, handling every detail of Bird Boot Camp – from the itinerary schedule for the day, booking artists and clinicians, organizing a coherent program, to funding the entire event through sponsorships, donations and grants to preclude possible barriers to participation. BMF added the Musical Salute element as well. In 2020 Burnett Music Foundation earned a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) for Bird Boot Camp + Musical Salute. (

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