Charlie Parker

Bird [Giants of Jazz]

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Eleven years after the appearance of Clint Eastwood's filmic portrait of Charlie Parker, the Giants of Jazz reissue label released a compilation that was pointedly presented as having been "inspired by the motion picture." This delayed spin-off album contains mostly live recordings made between July 1946 and December 1949, opening with two Carnegie Hall performances: a Jazz at the Philharmonic jam on "Lester Leaps In" and a wild take of "Ko Ko." The only studio recordings are the original "Cool Blues" of February 1947, a lovely chamber jazz reading of "April in Paris" (this November 1949 session with the Jimmy Carroll Orchestra was a precursor to the Bird with Strings sessions of the early '50s); the heartbreaking gin-and-smack-withdrawal version of "Loverman" from July 1946, and the piece that many feel to be Charlie Parker's magnum opus, "Parker's Mood," recorded in September 1948. There are more than a few Charlie Parker compilations bearing the one-word title "Bird." This one is surprisingly worthwhile. It succeeds as a counterpart to the film and a tribute to the artist largely because the inclusion of so much live material (with durations well in excess of the regulation three-minute studio take) conveys the excitement and wonderment of Charlie Parker in person, improvising away in the eternal present moment.

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