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The Complete Live Performances On Savoy

Charlie Parker

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Album Review

This four-CD set contains a somewhat streamlined presentation of Parker's complete known live broadcasts from New York's Royal Roost, dating during 1948 and 1949, augmented with five of the live September 29, 1947, Carnegie Hall recordings and one lower-quality tape made in Chicago during 1950. The vitality of these performances still radiates off the tapes in whatever format they're reproduced 50-plus years later — the interaction between the bandmembers, which include Miles Davis (or Kenny Dorham) on trumpet and Max Roach at the drums, and Tadd Dameron or Al Haig at the ivories, is spellbinding. The difference between these performances and Parker's studio work of the period is that he was always "on" for the broadcasts, and had already achieved something of a peak that he still missed in his studio work of the era — those along with him rose to the occasion, as witnessed by Kenny Dorham's playing on Miles Davis' "Half Nelson" in December of 1947. On the other hand, nobody could touch Parker when he was at his peak on stage, which he ascends easily on a jam set to Irving Berlin's "White Christmas." The Chicago material, which exists on a separate CD from Savoy (One Night in Chicago), isn't as well recorded — the rhythm section is muted, and the balances are off, but Parker is certainly audible, and hearing his improvisations on material like Rodgers & Hart's "There's a Small Hotel" is worth the price of the disc, even on what amounts to a good audience tape. The source material has been very carefully mastered, striking a good balance between clean playback and fidelity to the original performance, and the dozens of pages of notes represent virtually a separate, free-standing book on Parker during this period in his career.

Biography

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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