Charlie Parker

Bird: The Original Recordings of Charlie Parker

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This compilation of original Verve sessions (spanning 1947-1953) comes highly recommended, not only for its earful of superb musicianship from the creators of modern jazz, but for the sound quality of the recordings. Many Parker releases, culled from poorly engineered live recordings or audience bootlegs, require tolerating so much sonic hiss and extraneous noise that it distances and distracts from the enjoyment. Not so with these Verve tracks, which are astonishingly clear and well-balanced throughout, highlighting Parker's dazzling technique and full, incisive tone to good measure.

Joined by the likes of Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Lester Young, Thelonious Monk, and Max Roach, among others, Bird and ensemble blaze through versions of "Mohawk," "Now's the Time," and "Laird Baird" (which Parker dedicated to his son). Those allergic to orchestral arrangements should be forewarned that several tracks, including "Laura," "April in Paris," and "Just Friends" (which includes the solo Parker reputedly claimed was his own favorite), are string-laden. Parker's playing transcends all, however, and Bird: The Original Recordings is an outstanding collection for fans and newcomers alike.

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