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The Complete Live Performances On Savoy

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Album Review

The Best of the Complete Live Performances on Savoy recaptures the remarkable Charlie Parker in the late '40s leading his superb ensembles in an historic engagement over Labor Day weekend in 1948 at the Royal Roost. This distillation is a single volume of a four-CD Savoy reissue which in a way samples the total picture of the performances which ran for about four months — from December 1948 to March 1949. The CD also includes the actual "live" radio broadcasts which were presided over by Sid Torin and feature a young Miles Davis, Kenny Dorham, the great Max Roach, Al Haig, Milt Jackson, and Lucky Thompson, among others. Just think, the admission was just 90 cents! Among its many exceptional offerings, this assessment documents many of Parker's greatest performances, each featuring a network of melodic formulas that have been combined to create solos. His solos are often related to the original themes in unexpected and sometime ingenious ways (i.e., "Groovin' High,""Chasin' the Bird" — which is the very last evidence of the working quintet with both Davis and Roach — "Salt Peanuts," and "52nd Street Theme"). With "Anthropology," Parker ups the ante with a very fast tempo and 96 bars of invention. This is the latest in a magnificent body of jazz works reissued by Savoy, and its depth and omniscience in the purely musical sense is exceptional.


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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