1) Charlie Parker was widely regarded as one of the best saxophonists of the 20th century, a musical innovator and one of the pioneers of bebop jazz. He performed with other top players including Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, and Max Roach and even had his own featured story line in Ken Burns’ documentary mini-series on PBS, “Jazz.” Charlie Parker also suffered from mental health issues and developed a very bad habit over the years—pain killers and heroin. Some of this use stemmed from the continuing pain of a very bad car accident when he was younger which left him with broken ribs and a fused spine.
Pittsburgh Opera’s current production, Charlie Parker’s Yardbird, shows in a rather haunting fashion the struggle between Parker’s positive creative forces and his destructive demons. In the opera Parker has just died and his ghost travels back to the famed New York City jazz club named after him—Birdland. He assembles a team of supporters—his mother Addie, three of his four wives, and his friend and fellow musician Dizzy Gillespie—to help him finish his final masterpiece. However, his ever present demons are also in play. Pittsburgh Opera is billing the production as “a freeform expedition into the mind, heart, and personal purgatory of the man they called Yardbird.” Charlie Parker’s Yardbird is sung in English and runs through April 22.
The opera was composed by Swiss musical artist Daniel Schnyder, with a libretto by American poet and author Bridgette A. Wimberly. It is stage-directed for Pittsburgh Opera by Tomé Cousin, and the company’s music director, Antony Walker, conducts. The cast includes tenor Martin Bakari (Charlie Parker), soprano Jasmine Muhammad (Addie Parker), baritone Yazid Gray (Dizzy Gillespie), soprano Véronique Filloux (Chan Parker), mezzo-soprano Maire Therese Carmack (Baroness Nica Maire), soprano Madeline Ehlinger (Doris Parker), mezzo-soprano Chrystal E. Williams (Rebecca Parker), and actor/singer Tru Verret-Fleming (Moose the Mooche).
Charlie Parker’s Yardbird will be done as a live production with a socially distanced audience in place and corvid-19 protocols. All performances are sold out, but there is a waiting list and a free (with registration) livestreamed performance this evening at 7:30 p.m. on Pittsburgh Opera’s YouTube channel and Facebook page.
2) Gluten Free Goat Bakery had been a well-known brick and mortar store in Garfield for many years. Now under new ownership, Gluten Free Goat relaunches with a different approach to selling its gluten-free baked goods. The business will focus on retail, wholesale and direct-to-consumer sales, with an emphasis on collaborative connections.
Moving forward, Gluten Free Goat baked goods will be sold at Adda Coffee & Tea House, Mediterra Bakehouse, and the Speckled Egg. The bakery is looking to join together with more coffee shops, breweries, restaurants and other venues. Customers will now be able to place orders for delivery or pick-up (available on Tuesdays and Fridays). In addition to its house-made pastries and breads, the bakery will offer additional selections of jam, honey, spices and tea. Upcoming plans also include an online shop that will ship nation-wide, and a collection of allergen-free recipes provided by top-8-free food blogger Liz Fetchin of Octofree.
The bakery will continue to be a dedicated gluten-free and peanut-free facility, with items free of dairy, egg, or other allergens. Also being offered are new variations of cookies, donuts, soft pretzels, muffins, bagels, and breads.
Former executive pastry chef of Altius, and Culinary Institute of America trained, Selina Progar, is known for beautiful cakes, pastries, and plated desserts and is Gluten Free Goat’s pastry chef.
“My vision for Gluten Free Goat is to create baked goods that are gluten free, soy free, and peanut free that taste just like ‘regular’ baked goods,” says Progar. “We are also specializing in dairy free, egg free, nut free and vegan items. I want this bakery to give people who have dietary restrictions the options of a regular bakery.” Among the new items she’s excited to share with Gluten Free Goat customers are vegan yeast-risen doughnuts with a variety of toppings and a xanthan-free cookie line. She adds, “Ultimately I would love for a person with zero restrictions to taste what we make and not be able to tell the difference between a gluten free and traditional baked good.” Ashley Jones, Gluten Free Goat’s new manager is excited by the new offerings.
The public is invited to try some of Gluten Free Goat’s new offerings and meet the team at an outdoor PopUp celebration today from 4 to 8 p.m., with live music, coffee and free desserts at Adda Bazaar, 4905 Penn Ave., Pittsburgh.