Born in Kansas City, Kansas, Charlie Parker taught himself to play the alto saxophone, a present from his mother when he was 11 years old. At the age of 15, Parker left school and became a professional musician. In 1939 he moved to New York. In 1941, as a member of Jay McShann big band, he made his first recording. He later formed a quartet with Dizzy Gillespie, with whom he developed a new style of jazz known as be-bop. Parker, however, is commonly known as the leader of be-bop, because he developed a unique improvising technique for which he will always be remembered.