ORNITHOLOGY Classic Recordings 1945-1947
Charlie Parker-Alto Saxophone with various personnel comprising : Dizzy
Gillespie, Miles Davis and Howard McGhee-Trumpet; Lucky Thompson and
Wardell Gray-Tenor Saxophone; Clyde Hart, Sadik Hakim, Dodo Marmarosa,
Jimmy Bunn, Errol Garner, Bud Powell, John Lewis and Duke Jordan-Piano;
Remo Palmieri, Arvin Garrison and Barney Kessel-Guitar; Slam Stewart,
Curly Russell, Vic McMillan, Bob Kesterson, Red Callender, Tommy Potter
and Al McKibbon- Bass; Cozy Cole, Roy Porter, Max Roach, Doc West, Don
Lamond and Joe Harris- Drums; Earl Coleman- Vocal.
Recorded May 1945- November 1947 at various sessions in
Hollywood and New York. Originally released on the Dial, Guild, Savoy
and Black Deuce labels.
2. A Night In Tunisia
4. Now's The Time
5. Donna Lee
6. Hot House
7. Moose The Mooche
8. Bird Of Paradise
9. Yardbird Suite
10. Lover Man
11. Scrapple From The Apple
12. Dewey Square
13. Don't Blame Me
14. Groovin' High
15. Dizzy Atmosphere
16. Relaxin' At Camarillo
17. Dark Shadows
The vast majority of these recordings were originally released on the
Dial and Savoy labels. The earliest track, "Hot House" (which
is based on the standard "What Is This Thing Called Love")
was on the Guild label, while "Groovin' High" ("Whispering")
and "Dizzy Atmosphere" ( "I Got Rhythm") come from
the concert at Carnegie Hall which first appeared on the Black Deuce
The selections on this disc represent the pick of Parker's work from
these years and should be regarded as essential listening for anyone
interested in Be-Bop in its formative years. Some followers of the music
might have other personal favourites from this period, but I feel that
this is as good a compilation as is currently available.
Charlie Parker stands alone as the icon of this era. Other musicians
(Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Kenny Clarke, Charlie Christian etc)
played substantial and often equal roles in the development of modern
jazz, but it is "Bird" who has become the personification
of this movement.By 1945 his style had reached maturity and all aspects
of it can be heard in these selections. There is the up-tempo assuredness
of "Ko-Ko" ( based on the notoriously difficult chord sequence
of the Charlie Barnet hit "Cherokee") the blues drenched inflections
of "Now's The Time"and the wonderful re-working of standards
such as "Don't Blame Me", complete with melismatic double
The liner note refers to "Lover Man" as "almost incoherent"
and "nightmarish" - Parker suffered a breakdown after this
session and spent several months in Camarillo State Hospital as a consequence.
He is said to have been disturbed and saddened by Ross Russell's decision
to release the sides from this date ( Russell was the head of Dial Records
). However, there is still a stark beauty in Parker's playing on this
title and it has become one of his most famous recordings ( the other
titles including "Max Is Making Wax" and "The Gypsy"
are far more disjointed and certainly less worth seeking out - virtually
the only saving grace being the trumpet playing of Howard McGhee ).
Of the trumpet players featured here Gillespie and McGhee give the most
satisfying performances. Miles Davis,at this time, lacked consistency
and technical assurance - there are many examples of cracked notes and
insecure passages as can be heard with careful listening on the theme
of "Donna Lee" ( " Indiana" ).
The rhythm sections provide an interesting overview of the differing
styles of the musicians at that time - from mainstream players such
as Slam Stewart and Cozy Cole to the trendsetters such as Al McKibbon
and Max Roach. There is an equal variety to be found amongst the pianists
from the highly personal stylings of Errol Garner to the improvisatory
genius of Bud Powell. Excellent moments can be heard from soloists on
other instruments - notably Barney Kessel on guitar and Lucky Thompson
and Wardell Gray on tenor saxophone.
This disc is highly recommended and really is a modern jazz essential
as well as being great value for money!
D.S. is a professional reed player and
teacher living in Coventry.