Yes, Kate, you are a very good woman... then again, you may be the Antichrist.
—Doc Holliday to One-Eyed Kate in Tombstone (1993)
Depending on one’s perspective, Bird Up! Is the greatest thing since sliced bread or the worst thing since Heaven’s Gate. The premise is provocative. The urban music called jazz has been updated with the urban music of hip-hop and techno/sampling. Sampling of jazz tunes is nothing new; jazz, particularly soul jazz, has been broadly sampled by DJs. Why not remix Charlie Parker? Anthony Braxton totally deconstructed the Parker canon on his Charlie Parker Project, 1993 (HatART) to adventuresome effect, albeit the old-fashioned way.
I allowed a close friend (not a jazz fan) to listen to Bird Up! and he suggested that this music would be well suited for listening in a large metropolitan area on a Walkman. Or better yet, a boom box. It's dense and crowded with sounds and ideas that provoke a certain low hum of anxiety. Not necessarily a bad anxiety, just the kind that surrounds change and evolution in the music – socially, culturally, and otherwise. These are gritty urban takes on the high art of Bird and none of the songs suffer for it. This trippy mix blends techno-hip-hop with Parker recordings weaving in and out of the musical/creative maelstrom. "Now's the Time," Night in Tunisia," and "Barbados" best illustrate this.
The end result makes one reconsider not just jazz or hip-hop, but all music. I cannot say that this music is good or bad... it simply is. I would, however, encourage even the most conservative listeners to pay attention to this disc. It is inventive and re-creative— very much in the spirit of Parker.
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