512

Charlie Parker & Dizzy Gillespie: Bird And Diz

Chris May By

Sign in to view read count
Charlie Parker & Dizzy Gillespie: Bird And Diz Charlie Parker played in some strange settings during his career—with a cowboy band in Hollywood, a "Gypsy" string trio in a Manhattan restaurant, the street busker Moondog, and several klezmer bands—but such liaisons tended to be random, unrecorded encounters in clubs and restaurants. Aside from a 1945 session which included the novelty hipster, vocalist and guitarist Slim Gaillard and the New Orleans drummer Zutty Singleton, which was issued under Gaillard's name, bop's pre-eminent saxophonist preferred to record with carefully chosen, like-minded A-listers.

Which makes this 1950 session for producer Norman Granz a strange one, particularly as it came so late in Parker's career. For the date, a world class bop line-up of Parker, trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, pianist Thelonious Monk and bassist Curly Russell was completed by the barn-storming big band drummer Buddy Rich. A fine technician and swing auteur, Rich was so massively unsuited to bop's rhythmic subtleties it's a wonder the other guys didn't laugh him out of the studio. That instead, they treated the encounter seriously and Rich himself politely, we know from the scraps of studio chatter heard on some of the breakdown takes included on Bird And Diz, a new, warts and all, completist reissue of the session.

Maybe Granz was aiming to broaden Parker's appeal, as he intended with the Parker-with-strings sessions later the same year. But from a rhythm section perspective, the experiment was a failure. Rich's explosive, take-no-prisoners style, exciting and propulsive as it was in a big band context, here sounds lumpen and bombastic. If you can filter Rich out however—and that's easier to do than it sounds, for there's so much else going on worth listening to—the music survives. In the company of three of his chief constituents, Parker plays blistering and coherent, mostly up-tempo, primetime bop, rising above a little local difficulty just as he did with the string sections.

There are two blues ("Bloomdido" and "Mohawk"), two "I Got Rhythm" chord change derivations ("An Oscar For Treadwell" and "Leap Frog"), another using the changes from "Stompin' At The Savoy" ("Relaxin' With Lee"), and the delightfully cheesy 1912 ballad, "My Melancholy Baby," played with gusto by Parker (and belly up for one of Monk's semi-parodic Tin Pan Alley deconstructions, had playing time permitted it). The eighteen alternative and breakdown takes, lasting between four seconds and three minutes, forty-eight seconds, all of them previously released, make for an interesting extended coda to the six master takes which start the disc.

Archivists won't need to be told that this was the last time Parker and Gillespie recorded together in the studio, or that it was the only time they recorded with Monk. Gillespie, like Parker, is strong throughout, perfectly in sync with Parker on the theme statements and a consistently stimulating soloist; comping was never Monk's forte, but he delivers some quirky, if brief, solos. Bird And Diz is often dismissed out of hand because of Rich's presence. It shouldn't be.


Track Listing: Bloomdido; My Melancholy Baby; Relaxin' With Lee; Leap Frog; An Oscar For Treadwell; Mohawk; My Melancholy Baby (alternative take); Relaxin' With Lee (alternative take); Leap Frog (3 alternative takes); An Oscar For Treadwell (alternative take); Mohawk (alternative take); Relaxin' With Lee (4 breakdown takes); Leap Frog (7 breakdown takes).

Personnel: Charlie Parker: alto saxophone; Dizzy Gillespie: trumpet; Thelonious Monk: piano; Curly Russell: bass; Buddy Rich: drums.

Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Verve Music Group | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read This Is Nate Najar CD/LP/Track Review This Is Nate Najar
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Joy Comes Back CD/LP/Track Review Joy Comes Back
by James Nadal
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Apocalypse CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse
by Julian Derry
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "Play All the Notes" CD/LP/Track Review Play All the Notes
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 8, 2016
Read "Undertaker Please Drive Slow" CD/LP/Track Review Undertaker Please Drive Slow
by Glenn Astarita
Published: January 15, 2017
Read "April" CD/LP/Track Review April
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: January 29, 2017
Read "Invisible Hand" CD/LP/Track Review Invisible Hand
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 9, 2017
Read "Xabregas 10" CD/LP/Track Review Xabregas 10
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 19, 2016
Read "Blackwater" CD/LP/Track Review Blackwater
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: September 27, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!