Charlie Parker

1952-1954

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Sadly, this is the sixth and last volume in the Classics Charlie Parker chronology. It assembles all of his studio recordings made between March 25, 1952 and December 10, 1954, only three months before his death at the age of 35. On the session that opens the compilation, producer Norman Granz placed Bird in front of a brassy big band, using punchy arrangements by Joe Lippman. The quartet session of December 30, 1952 resulted in four beautiful tracks that are greatly enhanced by the rhythm section of Hank Jones, Teddy Kotick and Max Roach. Bird's highly evolved musicality, coupled with the fact that he was beginning to come up with titles like "Cosmic Rays" might invite speculation as to where he would have been at had he lived through the late '50s and into the '60s. Jazz purists have been bitching about the Gil Evans-arranged "chamber jazz" session of May 22, 1953 ever since the records first came out on Granz's Clef label. But Charlie Parker sounded marvelous in any company. He transformed everything he came into contact with, even these stylized vocals by Dave Lambert & His Singers, a carefully collared mini-choir that included Lambert's future partner in crime Annie Ross. Having Charles Mingus and Max Roach in the band didn't hurt, either. Roach was also on hand for a superb quartet date on August 4, 1953 with Al Haig and Percy Heath. (For a good time, chase Bird's rendition of "I Remember You" with all five takes of the same piece recorded in 1961 by Lee Konitz. Finish with the version presented live at Yoshi's in 1994 by the Anthony Braxton Piano Quartet, rinse, and repeat.) Charlie Parker's final two studio recording sessions took place in the early spring and winter of 1954 with quintets featuring Walter Bishop, Jr. at the piano, and first Roy Haynes then Art Taylor behind the drums. The material was entirely derived from the Cole Porter songbook; Bird's studio swan song, "I Love Paris" has an ominous quality that haunts the listener long after the five-minute record has ended.

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