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Charlie Parker: Liveology (2005)

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Charlie Parker: Liveology How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Back in the days of vinyl, I remember Everest as a reissue label that issued live Charlie Parker material in haphazard fashion, with little or no discographical information and muddy sound. Boris Rose airchecks were thrown in with tracks from Bird's 1950 Birdland session with Fats Navarro and Bud Powell, and it was often left to the listener to sort things out. But now, Empire Musicwerks has acquired the Everest catalogue, and with this notable compilation, the label has begun to reissue its Bird holdings. The discographical information is accurate, and for the most part, the remastering is excellent.

I concede up front that veteran ornithologists are likely to have this material, and I further concede that I'm no audiophile, but I was sufficiently impressed with the remastering on Liveology that I recommend it wholeheartedly, with minor reservations regarding the Rockland Palace tracks. The bottom line, of course, is Charlie Parker, who is captured here at or near his breathtaking best.

The first six tracks are from air checks in 1948 or 1949, featuring Parker's working groups of the time. Bird's relaxed swing is flowing, unpredictable, and highly advanced on "Big Foot" and "Ooh Bop Sh Bam," while he takes an impressive up-tempo flight through "Bebop." The remastering is sufficiently precise and clean as to warrant a reconsideration of these performances, even if you're already familiar with them.

The next five tracks come from a justly famous 1950 appearance at Birdland with Fats Navarro and Bud Powell. They are well-known and have been frequently reissued, but they are elusive, and their appearance here is most definitely welcome, especially with the attention to detail apparent in this latest remastering. This is stunningly great music, with many high points, such as Navarro's driving "Street Beat" improvisation, or the electrifying fours exchanged by Parker and Navarro on the same track. The last four tracks come from the 1952 concert at the Rockland Palace. The sound on the old Everest album of these tracks was terrible, and it is much better here. However, the tape speed remains a bit too fast.

If you're new to Bird, or you haven't heard these performances, Liveology is a must. If you've already heard these tracks, well, the remastering is very good. You already know how great the music is.

Track Listing: Koko, Big Foot, Cheryl, Be-bop, Barbados, Ooh Bop Sh Bam, Street Beat, Ornithology, Round Midnight, Wahoo, Cool Blues, Moose The Mooch, My Little Suede Shoes, Lester Leaps In, Sly Mongoose.

Personnel: Charlie Parker, alto saxophone; Miles Davis, Kenny Dorham, Fats Navarro, trumpet; Mundell Lowe, guitar; Al Haig, Bud Powell, Walter Bishop Jr., piano; Tommy Potter, Curly Russell, Teddy Kotick, bass; Max Roach, Art Blakey, drums.

Record Label: Empire Musicwerks

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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