653 Chenery Street
in San Francisco's Glen Park neighborhood

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Ruth Parish
– A Memorial Tribute with Jazz!
Wed., April 24th, 5 to 8 pm

annemarie-ruthRuth Parish passed away a few months ago, and we’re gathering her friends and relations to celebrate her life and the fond memories we have of her as a regular for years at the Bird & Beckett Friday evening jazz sessions.  Ruth’s daughter Anne-Marie Fleming has organized the evening and has invited Michael Parsons, Don Prell and Chris Bjorkbom to be on hand to play some of the jazz Ruth loved.  Do come to celebrate a vibrant spirit!

Ruth was born in Texas in 1924, but soon thereafter the family moved to Chicago where Ruth was mostly raised… She graduated high school in the middle of WWII and got her first job at Wrigley’s chewing gum factory making “K” rations for soldiers — she and her co-workers were well pleased that they could help the war effort at home through their work.

In 1940, Ruth and her sister Katie moved to New York City, where they were offered jobs with the Treasury Department after passing the Civil Service exam.  REbbets_Field_Outside2uth met and married her first husband John in 1945, and her daughter Anne-Marie was born three years later.

Ruth and John were big baseball fans and were thrilled when Jackie Robinson became the first African American player in Major League Baseball when he joined the Dodgers in 1947.  They were lucky enough to be in the bleachers during his historical first game at Ebbets Field.

Ruth was a  big jazz fan all along the way. During the Swing Era (1935-1945) she would often go the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem to jitterbug and to listen to top big bands like Charlie-Parker-and-Miles-Davis-Postersthose of Duke Ellington and Count Basie. After the big band era ended with the decline of swing, Ruth continued to listen to live jazz with the rise of bebop followed by “the cool era”, hearing such giants as Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and the cool jazz ensembles that included the likes of Miles Davis and Stan Getz at famous NYC clubs like Basin Street East, The Five Spot, The Bluenote and Birdland.

lechat2kenny_clarkeRuth lived in Paris from 1960 to 1962, and she continued to go out to hear live jazz, going to famous clubs like La Chat Qui Peche on the Left Bank, where she heard such notables as Bud Powell, Kenny Clarke and Dexter Gordon.  Leaving Paris in 1962, Ruth moved to San Francisco, where she lived out the next fifty years of her life.

Ruth started coming to Bird  & Beckett regularly in 2002, when she noticed that the store had started a regular Friday night jazz session, beginning with a trio of reed player Chuck Peterson, bassist Don Prell and drummer Jimmy Ryan, soon expanding to a quartet with guitarist Scott Foster and then to a quintet with Bird&Beckettatnightthe addition of reed player and arranger Bill Perkins.  Ruth was there for all of it, coming down the hill week after week from her apartment perched up on the edge of Glen Park — often accompanied by her daughter Anne-Marie.  A big jazz fan like her mother, Anne-Marie has followed in Ruth’s  footsteps, coming as often as she can to Bird & Beckett on Fridays and other nights, avidly following the music with the addition of pianist Michael Parsons and drummer Chris Bjorkbom to the roster of key jazz players gracing the bookshop’s stage.

Tonight — Wednesday, April 24th from 5 to 8 pm – we welcome Anne-Marie and the fond memory of her dear mother with a little wine, a lot of conversation and some fine jazz played by Don, Michael and Chris in Ruth’s honor!  Please join us!



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The Bird & Beckett Cultural Legacy Project

Our events are put on under the umbrella of the nonprofit Bird & Beckett Cultural Legacy Project (the "BBCLP"). That's how we fund our ambitious schedule of 300 or so concerts and literary events every year.

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