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Charlie Parker With Strings: The Master Takes

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It'd be natural to assume that it was producer Norman Granz's idea to put bebop's foremost improviser in front of a string ensemble, perhaps as a stab at commercial success. But by most accounts, this was Bird's brainchild, an idea he'd wanted to pursue for years; it was a chance for him to show his versatility as a musician and pay his respects to the classical world that he so admired. Parker's first session with strings (most likely the first ever by a full-time jazz musician) was November 30, 1949, and it yielded six standards, which were collected in a set of three 78s. Though controversial at the time - and still so today - Charlie Parker with Strings proved to be a huge success. "Just Friends" became Parker's biggest single and immediately showed the potential of the format: the delicate harp and wistful strings of the introduction give way to the fluid flurry of Parker's alto, which sounds inspired and liberated, not constrained. In fact, he and Granz were pleased enough to keep the string ensemble for further sessions in 1950 and 1952, plus a series of live dates, and this set offers a few tracks from Carnegie Hall to augment the original studio tracks. Though not all of the arrangements are compelling, Parker's ability to soar atop them, to effortlessly incorporate his blues and bop idioms in such settings, is nothing short of remarkable.

Customer Reviews

The epitome of Cool Jazz!

This was one of the first "crossover" jazz albums to gain popular acceptance in the mainstream. Truly introduced "Bird" to the masses. Still enjoyable after 50 years!

Another one of BIrds classics

Bird knew jazz and some of his other music was not favored by the public and so i think this album was created to show that he had more to give than "bebop" and i think he also gets to pay his respects to the classical world. so this is a great album to step out of the fast pace bop world and relax and listen to the bird at his best

Beautiful music with a genius saxophone player

Play this with your lover, and you'll never want to listen to anything else. By CoolFreeHardBop - a certified Groovologist (accept NO substitute!)


Born: August 29, 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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