Charlie Parker

Bird's Eyes, Vol. 18

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Jazz fanatics feverishly sought to record Charlie Parker whenever possible during radio broadcasts or live appearances, with very mixed results in fidelity. Adding to the problem was the tendency of some of them to record just Parker's alto sax solos instead of complete tunes. Fortunately, this Philology CD has some excellent tracks.

The opening five songs, which come from an early-1946 radio broadcast from the Finale Club in Los Angeles, showcase Parker with a group including Miles Davis, Joe Albany, Addison Farmer, and Chuck Thompson. Though there is some wear apparent on the source material (likely transcription discs made by a collector who worked at an area radio station), it doesn't significantly interfere with the performances, which are generally complete.

A Jubilee transcription features the irrepressible announcer Ernie "Bubbles" Whitman introducing alto saxophonists Willie Smith (featured on "Tea for Two"), Benny Carter (on "Body and Soul," though with an uncharacteristic reed squeak), and finally Parker ("Cherokee"), with the other two men joining him at the end. All three are accompanied by an outstanding rhythm section consisting of the Nat King Cole Trio (bassist Johnny Miller and guitarist Oscar Moore) plus Buddy Rich.

Unfortunately, the sound quality of the remaining music selections ranges from dreadful to barely listenable, simply because the initial recordings failed to capture much more than Parker's alto sax, and even that is often badly distorted. A rare interview with radio host John McLellan (which is also transcribed in the CD booklet) has decent sound, though his questions are often inept. Already deleted by Philology after a number of other labels copied their remastered tracks, this compilation will be of interest primarily to hardcore fans of Charlie Parker.

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