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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby



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CHARLIE PARKER

‘Mellow Bird’

Volume 3 Original Recordings 1949-1952

NAXOS Jazz Legends 8.120700

 

 

 

1

Just Friends

11

East Of The Sun

2

Everything Happens To Me

12

They Can’t Take That Away From Me

3

April In Paris

13

Easy To Love

4

Summertime

14

I’m In The Mood For Love

5

I Didn’t Know What Time It Was

15

I’ll Remember April

6

If I Should Lose You

16

Star Eyes

7

My Melancholy Baby

17

Temptation

8

Dancing In The dark

18

Autumn In New York

9

Out Of Nowhere

19

Stella By Starlight

10

Laura

20

Lover

 

 

For some time Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker had expressed an interest in playing with a string section and that eventually came to fruition between 1949 and 1952. The ‘Bird With Strings’ sessions included here turned out to be his most commercially successful work. Some purists will claim, as noted by Scott Yannow, that these dates ‘were too restrictive and the music somewhat conservative, emphasizing swing standards rather than new bebop originals.’ However, Parker enjoyed these unique recordings which include some of the best musicians around at the time.

Besides the ‘Charlie Parker With Strings’ sessions Naxos have also included a track from a ‘reunion session’ when Parker teams up with Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonius Monk, Buddy Rich and Curly Russell. Another track is a similar reunion with Miles Davis. Neither features a string section.

The final four titles, recorded in 1952 by Charlie Parker and his Orchestra, also feature strings but by then the concept had run its course and Parker was finding the setting rather confining. These final dates find the orchestra also augmented with flute, oboe and harp.

Many of the titles herein have become ‘classics,’ none more so than ‘Just Friends’ - ‘Bird’s improvisation is simply stunning, creating some brilliant variations and fresh ideas.’ That comment applies to all the material. This is only a small but vital component of the great legacy that lives on highlighting just how great an impact Parker had on the development of jazz. As Brian Priestley wrote, ‘No one individual apart from Louis Armstrong has cast such a long shadow over succeeding generations of jazz musicians.’ How befitting those words are!

‘Mellow Bird’ is an excellent compilation and warrants a place in any jazz collection – thoroughly enjoyable and highly recommended.

Jack Ashby



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