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The Complete Verve Master Takes (Box Set)

Charlie Parker

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Album Review

Along with a complete duplication of the 24 performances included in Complete Verve Masters with Strings, which was issued a year earlier than this set, there are 50 other master takes here produced by Norman Granz, ranging from a 1947 Carnegie Hall date to Parker's last in 1954. Many of the cuts come from 1950-1952. Half of the 1949 sessions are string dates; the rest come from sessions with Kenny Dorham, Tommy Turk, Al Haig, Tommy Potter, and Carlos Vidal. The most rewarding performances are a reunion of sorts with Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonious Monk, along with Curly Russell and Buddy Rich, from April 1950. These tracks are nearly seminal versions of "Mohawk," "Leapfrog," and "Relaxin' with Lee," along with fine reads of "Bloomdido," "An Oscar for Treadwell," and "My Melancholy Baby." Four other cuts come from a brief reunion with Miles Davis and Max Roach in January of 1951 with Teddy Kotick and Walter Bishop, Jr. rounding out the band, and include smokingly hot versions of "Au Privave," "She Rote," and "K.C Blues." Other musicians who appear here are Oscar Peterson, Red Rodney, Kenny Clarke, John Lewis, and Billy Bauer, among dozens of others. The package is beautiful in a decorated, painted silver metal box that the CDs fold out of, but the booklet — like Universal's Joni Mitchell set — falls apart because of bogus stitching. There is undoubtedly great music here, although it would have worked better as a double set to respect those who were righteous enough to buy the strings disc.

Biography

Born: 29 August 1920 in Kansas City, KS

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s

One of a handful of musicians who can be said to have permanently changed jazz, Charlie Parker was arguably the greatest saxophonist of all time. He could play remarkably fast lines that, if slowed down to half speed, would reveal that every note made sense. "Bird," along with his contemporaries Dizzy Gillespie and Bud Powell, is considered a founder of bebop; in reality he was an intuitive player who simply was expressing himself. Rather than basing his improvisations closely on the melody as was...
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