Charlie Parker

Jazz at the Philharmonic [Indigo]

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Indigo Records presents a sampler of Charlie Parker's Jazz at the Philharmonic performances recorded live in Los Angeles at the Philharmonic Auditorium on January 28, and at the Embassy Auditorium on April 22, 1946. To hear Bird participating in extended blowing sessions is to hear him in his own element. Back home in Kansas City, young Charlie Parker developed his chops during the '30s by woodshedding -- the word refers to the solitary discipline of ceaseless practicing -- and by holding his own while performing in public among highly competitive musicians who would laugh you off the stand if they sensed that you didn't know your stuff. By the end of the Second World War, Parker's revolutionary approach to music was profoundly influencing large numbers of musicians throughout the New York jazz scene. Arriving in Hollywood in December 1945, Bird made a few records with Dizzy Gillespie (including a delightful Savoy session with Slim Gaillard), gigged at Billy Berg's Supper Club and was invited to appear with Norman Granz's Jazz at the Philharmonic show. The JATP formula was simple enough: get a pack of experienced players together, hand them a jam tune and let 'er rip! With all due respect to members of the rhythm section, what really gassed the audiences at JATP was the combination of horns on the front line. The January sets (tracks one through five) feature trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie (only on "Sweet Georgia Brown") Howard McGhee and Al Killian and four superb saxophonists: Parker, Willie Smith, Charlie Ventura and Lester Young. From the April concert, "I Got Rhythm" and "J.A.T.P. Blues" combine lone trumpeter Buck Clayton with Bird, Pres, Willie Smith and Coleman Hawkins. With the exception of two titles that didn't fit on the disc ("Slow Drag" and "I Surrender Dear"), what you get here constitutes everything that Bird blew with JATP during the opening months of 1946. Unfortunately, in the weeks and months to come Parker would fall off the scene and nearly do himself in with bad junk and cheap liquor. The next time he'd blow his horn in front of a recording microphone would be the tortuous "Lover Man" date of July 29, 1946 -- a far cry from these exciting public J.A.T.P. jam sessions.

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