Ira Gitler on Parker's Moods - JazzWax

« George Wein on the Rebel Festival | Main | Interview: Paul Bacon (Part 1) »

July 07, 2010


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


As a German, and big Charlie Parker fan, I'm fully informed about the true meaning, and origin of "Klact-Oveeseds-Tene":

It is Charlie Parker's onomatopoetic way of saying -- and now, brothers, hold your hats: "Klatschen - Auf Wiedersehen!"

Which is indeed "a sound": Clapping, goodbye! Yes, goodbye for now, because I will be watching the half-final of the soccer world cup: Germany versus Spain ;)

By the way: Hasn't Miles Davis composed "Donna Lee"?

P.S. -- I started a new series at my blog: Greatest Solos (Part 1 is up today). Feel free to click on my name.

Rab Hines

Gitler is indeed a treasure, and I wish I had a nickel for every time I came across his name while reading liner notes.

Thanks once again, Marc.

Ed Leimbacher

The Big I and the Big O! Ira Gitler and Orrin Keepnews... man, I have been reading and admiring and envying those two guys for 50 years. BeBop lives on in them--them and, to a lesser degree, Dan Morgenstern, who came more from the Mainstream/Swing side of things. God bless the Three Wise, and occasionally prickly, Men of Jazz. Write on! (And, Marc, you keep on quotin'.)

Danton Volstead

Gitler is a great guy and true resource.

With respect to the German guy, his "origin" for Klact-Oveeseds-Tene is just wishful thinking. I once lived off the corner of Clarkson and Vestine -- maybe Bird was referring to that intersection? Naaaahhh.

Congrats to Spain while on the subject.

Great interview.



Come on folks, it's clearly Klatschen (Klact) Auf (O) Wie (wee) dersehn (seds-Tene) ...

This is an "s", and not an "r".

By the way: Ross Russell's book is very subjective and filled with inaccuracies, as Dizzy stated himself in a German TV show, when he was asked about "Bird Lives" by Mr. George Gruntz, the famous Swiss jazz orchestra leader: "These book is full of lies! - It's all lies in this book!" He was obviously very angry.

And then he started to warm up, and wasn't available for any questions anymore. Hank Jones played the piano then, and yours truly has watched the whole show live (in real time!) on TV.

"Dizzy Gillespie in concert" -- Moderation: George Gruntz -- Stadthalle Leonberg, 1987" -- ZDF Jazz Club.

It's a pity that Clint Eastwood's film "Bird" was founded almost solely on Mr. Russell's book.

Grant Tietinger

" ... it's clearly Klatschen (Klact) Auf (O) Wie (wee) dersehn (seds-Tene) ..."

Clearly to you perhaps. I'm German and I think you are REALLY stretching of the point, to be charitable.

Thank you Mr. Myers for these delightful ongoing series of interviews. They are unique in my humble opinion, and I speak as a soi-disant connoisseur.

Great fun, every day! I admire your energy and insights.

(Have and/or will you write a book or compilation?)


Larry Kart

What I've always wondered is, how do you say "Klactoveesedstene"? That is, what syllable or syllables is/are emphasized? Given that Bird wrote out the title as "Klact-oveeseds-tene" (this is reproduced on the back of Spotlite LP 105, "Charlie Parker on Dial Vol. 5") I think the likeliest choices would be "Klact-oveeSEDS-tene" or "Klact-oVEEseds-tene." The latter sound more hip/oblique rhythmically, like a Max Roach fill.


Ken Vail is mentioning it in his great book "Bird's Diary" on page 33:

"Bird rarely bothered to name his compositions, but when Ross Russell later pressed for titles for this session Bird came up with an unexplained title for the second number which he wrote out on the back of a Three Deuces $2 minimum charge card - Klact-oveeseds-tene.

Red Rodney maintains that Bird was dabbling with German. Klatschen - clap, applause; Auf wiedersehn - goodbye."

Any questions left? -- I guess no.

Boppin' best,


Grant Tietinger

Booooshwah, my friend. Wishful thinking.

I would be very interested to see the Rodney citation. And even if it is true that " Bird was dabbling with German" it is nowhere near proof that Klact-oveeseds-tene means whatever it is you think it does mean.

Why wouldn't Bird have simply said it was German?

Clara King

I wish guys like Gitler and Hentoff and others would go on the lecture tour circuit. I'd sign up for season passes. Until that happens, thank you for JazzWax.


Bird had 1. a photographic memory, and 2. was he a very talented imitator of accents, and dialects, and 3. had he - as Mr. Gitler wrote - a good sense of humor, especially when he was giving titles to his tunes.

Red Rodney was playing not only some trumpet solos at the soundtrack to Clint Eastwood's film, he acted also as an adviser there. Ken Vail quoted him in his book. So, where's the problem?


highly informative comments by brew.
also visited his blog, highly recommended by you, Marc, and rightly so.
bird forever,

Desmond Bloemsteen

I think Mr Gitler should get the Medal of Freedom.

Des B.


I fully agree about Gitler, one of the greatest jazz writers ever. How about a tip of the hat also to Phil Schaap, whose knowledge of jazz history is so encylopaedic that producers frequently call him in to assist with reissue projects. Also Bill Crow, who just collects the funny parts. Ross Russell was, I think, an anything for a buck kind of guy.


I'm not sure that the correct answer has been said, but it was hinted when someone mentioned that Bird was a great imitator of accents. Klact-oveeseds-tene was Bird's attempt to create a word that sounded like it was from a different language (the language escapes me). However, it clearly has no ties to a real word.


years ago i was talking to doctor dietrich schulz-köhn (known as "doctor jazz"), a german jazz journalist, producer,and friend of many, many jazz musicians. i asked him if he ever meet charlie parker in person. he was at the jazzfestival in paris 1949 (backstage). parker talked to schulz-köhn and asked him if he was german. yes, said dr. jazz, he was german. "german is a very musically language" was the answer of bird. so parker was aware of the german language.

keep boppin´



Addendum to the above theory that it was Bird's way of hearing German:

If you compare Bird's handwritten title (and it's a proven fact that he himself has written this with his own hand), if you compare this title and the letter "s" with his "r's" on another handwritten document (a letter to Savoy) you will notice that the letter, of which generations of fans, and critics, and scientists believed would be an "s" is in fact an "r".

So, let's take the "Klact" like in "Klatsch(en)" as a given truth, and concentrate on the remaining syllables "Oveereds-Tene".

Auf Wieder... ---> O-veered... seh'n ---> ...s-Tene ... correct?
Just speak it out loudly, and a bit diffident: "Klact-Oveereds-Tene", and you will hear what Charlie Parker heard when a German clapped his hands, and said goodbye:

Klatsch(en) - Auf Wiedersehen!

By the way: Some Anglo-American native speakers tend occasionally to scramble letters in German words:

"Oveered" would become "Oveeder" which would so retransform to a completely logical "Auf Wieder..." (Allow me a personal remark: How often was my own name involved in this, and I had to read Mr. Liecht, instead of the correct "Leicht"?)

Both of Bird's handwritten documents I am referring to can be compared here:

Declan Lewis

Fascinating insight. Thank you so much!! Peace n Love n Music.

The comments to this entry are closed.


  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of 55 More Songs," "Anatomy of a Song," "Rock Concert: An Oral History" and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax has won three Jazz Journalists Association awards.
Marc Myers2 2021 (c)by Alyse Myers

Contact me


Click the covers to order...

Subscribe Free

Please enter all required fields
Correct invalid entries

Search JazzWax

  • JazzWax

JazzWax Interviewed

JazzWax Interviews

Audio Note

  • Audio clips that appear below JazzWax posts support editorial content that links readers directly to Amazon and other third-party music retailers.

Marc Myers on Video

JATP Programs