The historic live Town Hall sessions by Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker from 1945 have been discovered on an acetate pressing, and are transferred with digital enhancement to CD. Why this concert was not issued initially is understandable, but Ira Gitler's informative and insightful liner notes suggest they likely were misplaced. What Gitler's essential writing also reveals is that these dates were approximate by only weeks to the original studio recordings of these classics, and there was no small amount of controversy surrounding this revolutionary bebop. Clearly bop was a vehicle for intricate melodic invention followed by lengthy soloing, aspects of which Parker with Gillespie were perfectly suited for. Fact is, the situation surrounding the sonic capture and extended neglected shelf life of this performance was far from optimal. Symphony Sid Torin is the M.C., rambling as always, making repeated references to Dizzy "Jillespie" and misidentifying Max Roach as Sid Catlett on "Salt Peanuts." (Catlett does sit in on "Hot House" in a more supportive than demonstrative role.) The tracks with the brilliant Roach are on fire, particularly the super-hot "Salt Peanuts," with pianist Al Haig flying beside him. Haig is perhaps the most impressive musician. The rhythm section, especially Haig, is more present in the mix and up front, while the trumpet and alto sax are buried. As the concert progresses, it gets better, with Gillespie's muted trumpet clearer. Parker lays back on the mike, but not in spirit or bravado for "Interlude," which is now known as "A Night in Tunisia," and better balanced during "Groovin' High," which was originally titled "Whispering." There seems to be an unplanned slight key chance in the bridge of "Groovin' High." A late-arriving Parker was in part replaced by tenor saxophonist Don Byas, who sounds terrific on the opener, "Bebop," until Parker steps on-stage and ups the ante. At under 41 minutes in length, this can be looked upon as a historical document, likely appealing only to completists. But the overriding factor of previously undiscovered Diz and Bird makes the CD something all bebop fans should readily embrace, despite its audio deficiencies.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos