Charlie Parker

The Complete Norman Granz Master Takes

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Charlie Parker's studio recordings have been issued, reissued (and de-issued, so to speak) in so many confusing combinations that anyone seeking a better understanding of his original discography might need a lodestone to hang onto. In addition to his excellent Savoy and Dial recordings, jazz lovers ought to have access to Definitive's wonderful survey of every master take that Bird ever recorded for producer Norman Granz. For years this exceptionally fine material was usually presented categorically, depending on thematic content ("South of the Border"), personae ("Bird and Diz") or instrumentation ("Bird with Strings"). Considered as a whole, this four-CD set is a stunning tribute to a master improviser. Neatly spanning a time period from December 1947 to December 1954, it includes Bird's very first Granz recording (made in Carnegie Hall without an audience); Bird's own big-band sessions; Bird's collaborations with Neal Hefti, Machito, Coleman Hawkins and trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie, Kenny Dorham, Miles Davis, Red Rodney and Benny Harris; three different sessions involving a chamber ensemble with strings; Bird's final quartet and quintet recordings, and a truly awe-inspiring All-Star Norman Granz Jam Session with a frontline consisting of Charlie Parker with Johnny Hodges, Benny Carter, Ben Webster, Flip Phillips and Charlie Shavers. The With Strings sessions sound better than ever when heard in context with the rest of the Parker/Granz collaborations. Here, then, is the Charlie Parker compilation to have, along with the Savoy and Dial master takes. This edition is supremely well-presented, and thoughtfully annotated with a written eulogy by Leonard Feather and a priceless set of transcribed reminiscences by legendary Kansas City bassist Gene Ramey.

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