Cecil Payne has been on the scene since the late 1940s. Perhaps best known for his stint with the Dizzy Gillespie Orchestra and his long association with Randy Weston, he is one of the true masters of a difficult instrument, the baritone saxophone. Originally issued in 1961 on Charlie Parker Records, this album features Payne leading an all-star ensemble through a set, appropriately enough, of Charlie Parker tunes.
Payne is joined by Bird's pianist Duke Jordan, the impeccable Clark Terry on trumpet, Charlie Persip on drums, and, shortly before he was to join Miles Davis, a young Ron Carter on bass. All are in fine form on the familiar Parker tunes performed here, with the contrast between Payne's growling baritone and Terry's sweetly swinging trumpet especially effective.
This is a very solid album, although there's not much that sets it apart from dozens of other sets of Bird's music. It is a treat, however, to hear Payne's fluid, expressive baritone in front of this outstanding band.