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10

Charlie Parker: Bird: The Complete Masters 1941-1954

Chris May By

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All roads lead back to Charlie Parker, and if ever a musician's recorded output is worth collecting in its entirety, it is his. Only Louis Armstrong's corpus of work is comparably important.

Much of Parker's output has been made available over various box sets, of which the three most comprehensive are the 8-CD The Complete Savoy And Dial Studio Recordings 1944-1948 (Savoy, 2002); the 10-CD Bird: The Complete Charlie Parker On Verve (Verve, 1989); and the 7-CD The Complete Dean Benedetti Recordings Of Charlie Parker (Mosaic, 1990). These monumental compilations add up to a completist's dream, scrupulously collecting, as they do, alternate takes and breakdowns along with master takes. Acquiring the three boxes, however, represents a considerable financial outlay—one that some Parker fans might not be able to run to.

The 13-CD Bird: The Complete Masters 1941-1954 is a brilliant way station. Discs 1-11 contain all the master takes on Parker's key labels—Savoy, Dial and Verve (and its associate labels)—plus others from the first phase of his documented career on Decca, Continental, Guild, Musicraft, Comet, Apollo and Bel-Tone. These early tracks were made under the leaderships (some of them nominal) of Jay McShann, Tiny Grimes, Red Norvo, Clyde Hart, Slim Gaillard, Sir Charles Thompson and Dizzy Gillespie. The 13 discs contain none of the solos-only material surreptitiously recorded by Parker disciple Dean Benedetti (with Parker's knowledge) during club gigs, and no alternate takes and breakdowns other than the 6-second micromasterpiece known as "The Famous Alto Break," a fragment of an abandoned take of "A Night In Tunisia" recorded in California in 1946 (the ensemble work was deemed too ragged for release).

Discs 12 and 13 are a sampling of the huge quantity of radio transcriptions and live and private recordings featuring Parker made between 1940 (four tracks recorded for radio by the Jay McShann Octet in Wichita, Kansas) and 1953, most of it only otherwise available on the international collector-to-collector network. The most essential single item in this strand is Jazz At Massey Hall, the mindblowing 1953 concert reunion of bop auteurs Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell and Max Roach, surreptitiously recorded by the evening's bassist, Charles Mingus (without Parker's knowledge) and released by him on his Debut label later that year. One track, "Wee," is included on disc 13 (but Parker connoisseurs will want the complete, oft-reissued Jazz At Massey Hall).

Bird: The Complete Masters 1941-1954 and the separately released Jazz At Massey Hall contain everything all but the most single-minded collector will need.

Bird: The Complete Masters 1941-1954 comes with a 68-page booklet containing full session details for each of the 234 tracks plus some rarely seen photographs (including a stunningly revealing one by Herman Leonard).

Further reading is provided by five key texts: Ross Russell's Bird Lives! The High Life And Hard Times Of Charlie "Yardbird" Parker (Quartet, 1973), possibly the best book on jazz ever published; Russell's Jazz Style In Kansas City And The Southwest (University Of California Press, 1971); Robert Reisner's Bird: The Legend Of Charlie Parker: The Life And Times Of America's Musical Genius (Citadel, 1962); David Kastin's Nica's Dream: The Life And Legend Of The Jazz Baroness (W.W. Norton, 2011); and Chan Parker's My Life In E-Flat (University Of South Carolina Press, 1993).

That should keep you happily engaged and off the streets for a month or so.

Track Listing: CD1: 1941-1945: Swingmatism; Hootie Blues; Dexter Blues; Lonely Boy Blues; The Jumpin' Blues; Sepian Bounce; Tiny's Tempo; I'll Always Love You Just The Same; Romance Without Finance; Red Cross; What's The Matter Now; I Want Every Bit Of It; That's The Blues; G.I. Blues; Dream Of You; Seventh Avenue; Sorta Kinda; Ooh Ooh My My Ooh Ooh; Groovin' High; All The Things You Are; Dizzy Atmosphere;

CD2: 1945: Salt Peanuts; Shaw 'Nuff; Lover Man; Hot House; What More Can A Woman Do?; I'd Rather Have A Memory Than A Dream; Mean To Me; Hallelujah; Get Happy; Slam Slam Blues; Congo Blues; Takin' Off; If I Had You; 20th Century Blues; The Street Beat; Warming Up A Riff; Billie's Bounce; Now's The Time; Thriving On A Riff; Ko-Ko; Meandering.

CD3: 1945- 1947: Dizzy's Boogie; Flag Foot Floogie; Popity Pop; Slim's Jam; Diggin' Diz; Moose the Mooche; Yardbird Suite; Ornithology; A Night In Tunisia (The Famous Alto Break); A Night In Tunisia; Max Making Wax; Lover Man; The Gypsy; Bebop (Dizzy's Fingers); Home Cooking 3 (I Got Rhythm); Homecooking 2 (Cherokee); Homecooking 1 (Opus); This Is Always; Dark Shadows; Bird's Nest; Cool Blues (Hot Blues); Cool Blues (Blow Top Blues); Cool Blues.

CD4: 1947: Relaxin' At Camarillo; Cheers; Carvin' The Bird; Stupendous; Donna Lee; Chasin' The Bird; Cheryl; Buzzy; Milestones; Little Willie Leaps In; Half Nelson; Sippin' At Bells; Dexterity; Bongo Bop; Dewey Square; The Hymn; Bird Of Paradise; Embraceable You (Take A); Embraceable You (Take B); Bird Feathers; Klactoveesedstene; Scrapple From The Apple.

CD5: 1947-1948: My Old Flame; Out Of Nowhere; Don't Blame Me; Driftin' On A Reed (Big Foot); Quasimodo; Charlie's Wig; Bongo Beep; Crazeology; How Deep Is The Ocean?; Another Hairdo; Bluebird; Klaunstance; Bird Gets The Worm; Repetition; The Bird; Barbados; Ah-Leu-Cha; Constellation; Parker's Mood; Perhaps; Marmaduke; Steeplechase; Merry-Go-Round.

CD6: 1948-1949: No Noise Parts 1 and 2; Mango Mangue; Overtime (Short Version); Victory Ball (Short Version; Overtime (Long Version); Victory Ball (Long Version); Okiedokie; Cardboard; Visa; Segment; Passport (Version 1); Passport (Version 2); Diverse (Segment); Just Friends; Everything Happens To Me; April In Paris; Summertime; I Didn't Know What Time It Was; If I Should Lose You.

CD7: 1950: Star Eyes; Blues (Fast); I'm In The Mood For Love; Bloomdido; An Oscar For Treadwell; Mohawk; My Melancholy Baby; Leap Frog; Relaxin' With Lee; Dancing In The Dark; Out Of Nowhere; Laura; East Of The Sun (And West Of The Moon); They Can't Take That Away From Me; Easy To Love; I'm In The Mood For Love; I'll Remember April; Celebrity; Ballade.

CD8: 1950-1951: Afro-Cuban Jazz Suite; Cancion; Mambo Part 1; Mambo Part 2; 6/8; Jazz; Rhumba Abierta; Au Privave; She Rote; K.C. Blues; Star Eyes; My Little Suede Shoes; Un Poquito De Tu Amor; Fiesta; Why Do I Love You?; Blues For Alice; Si Si; Swedish Schnapps; Back Home Blues; Lover Man.

CD9: 1952: Temptation; Lover; Autumn In New York; Stella By Starlight; Mama Inez; La Cucaracha; Begin The Beguine; La Paloma; Night And Day; Almost Like Being In Love; I Just Can't Get Started; What Is This Thing Called Love?; The Song Is You (I Hear Music); Laird Baird; Kim; Cosmic Rays.

CD10: 1952: Jam Blues; What Is This Thing Called Love?; Ballad Medley (All The Things You Are, Dearly Beloved, The Nearness Of You); Funky Blues.

CD11: 1953-1954: Compulsion; The Serpent's Tooth 1; The Serpent's Tooth 2; 'Round About Midnight; In The Still Of The Night; Old Folks; If I Love Again; Chi-Chi; I Remember You; Now's The Time; Confirmation; I Get A Kick Out Of You; Just One Of Those Things; My Heart Belongs To Daddy; I've Got You Under My Skin; Love For Sale; I Love Paris.

CD12: 1940-1946 Broadcasts, Concerts, Private Recordings: Moten Swing; Coqette; Oh Lady Be Good!; Honeysuckle Rose; I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles; Cherokee; Cherokee; Ko-Ko; My Heart Tells Me (Should I Believe My Heart?); I Found A New Baby; Body And Soul; Floogie Boo; Dizzy Atmosphere; Groovin' High; Shaw 'Nuff; I Can't Get Started; After You've Gone.

CD13: 1947-1953 Broadcasts, Concerts, Private Recordings: 52nd Street Theme; Groovin' High; Tiger Rag; Hot House; Be Bop (Dizzy's Fingers); Oop Bop Sh'Bam; Anthropology; April In Paris; Move; The Street Beat; Cool Blues; 'Round Midnight; A Night In Tunisia; Wee; Don't Blame Me; Now's The Time.

Personnel: Charlie Parker: alto saxophone, tenor saxophone (CD4: 9-12; CD11: 1-4); various personnels.

Title: Bird: The Complete Masters 1941-1954 | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Universal Music France

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