Charlie Parker

At Birdland

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This collection is a whopper, a 61-track/four-CD box set of sessions recorded live at Birdland from a variety of dates, years, and groupings. As a collection, this set holds up well if you can get past the sound quality, which at times is raw, thin, or tinny. The sidemen are all the usual suspects who Charlie Parker had in his bands, and the material is 95 percent familiar, while there are a few repeat tunes. Some string or orchestral arrangements crop up, but it's mostly Parker and small ensembles tearing up the bebop thing. Surely there are many completists who simply will have to own this, and while devotees should rightly question the means and ends of such a release, it is one that belongs in Bird's discography as a rare document, and at the very least is an intriguing compilation.

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