Charlie ParkerThe Complete Masters 1941-54Universal France
It is possible that more "complete" collections of the work of Charlie Parker have been released than there were recordings made by the saxophonist. And as you beat your way through the box set undergrowth, caution is required. Few of the collections are, in fact, complete, even within the parameters (complete live, complete studio, complete with strings, etc) by which they define themselves. In the hands of record company marketing departments, "complete" can take on a stretchability that would be the envy of Marvel Comics' Elastic Man.
Universal France's 13-disc set, The Complete Masters 1941-54
is more complete than most, with only a few omissions within its parameters. It is left to the purchaser to work out, however, what those parameters are; no definition of "complete masters" is given in the 68-page liner booklet. What it seems
to mean is: the complete studio master takes made under Parker's or others' leadership and released during Parker's lifetime or shortly after his death, plus selected tracks from the far greater number of live, broadcast, "unofficial" or private recordings (the content on discs 12 and 13).
So, for instance, all 14 "masters" comprising the two original albums titled Charlie Parker With Strings
(Mercury, 1950) are included, but not the ten additional "master takes" included on Verve's 1995 reissue, Charlie Parker With Strings: The Master Takes
. So, too, only one track ("Wee") is included from the "unofficial" live album Jazz At Massey Hall
(Debut, 1953), on which Parker was originally credited as Charlie Chan to avoid contract violation.
Because The Complete Masters 1941-54
cuts out the many alternate takes, works in progress and band or recording breakdowns which have been added to Parker's posthumous releases, it is an ideal starting point for anyone venturing into the thicket of "complete" Parker collections: it is 24 carat from start to finish. Almost all of the original-release, studio master takes Parker recorded under his own namefor Savoy, Dial, Mercury, Norgran, Verve and Clefare included; so too are almost all of those made under the leadership, actual or titular, of trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie
and Miles Davis
, guitarist Tiny Grimes
, pianist Clyde Hart
and others, along with early outings in bands led by pianists Jay McShann
, Slim Gaillard
and Sir Charles Thompson
and vibraphonist Red Norvo
The live, broadcast, "unofficial" or private recordings compiled on discs 12 and 13 throw up some less celebrated gems. The berserk 1947 recording of Dixieland warhorse "Tiger Rag" made with Barry Ulanov and His All Star Metronome Jazzmen; once heard, not to be forgotten (though not necessarily to be replayed often). Two incandescent live cuts ("Move" and "The Street Beat") broadcast from the Birdland club in June 1950 with trumpeter Fats Navarro
, pianist Bud Powell
, bassist Curly Russell
and drummer Art Blakey
. The searing solo entrance Parker makes to "April In Paris," broadcast from the Café Society club in the spring or summer of 1950, which silences the chattering audience in a beat. Four great tracks ("Hot House," "Be-Bop," "Oop Bop Sh'Bam" and "Anthropology") made with a variety of line-ups including a septet with vibraphonist Milt Jackson
("Anthropology"), broadcast from the Royal Roost club between December 1948 and March 1949. The Complete Masters 1941-54
delivers a muthalode of some of most exciting jazz recorded up to the mid-1950s or since. No "bonus" tracks, just the solid gold real deal with which Parker and his fellow travelers revolutionized jazz. And the immaculate disc mastering, by Studio 101, does the material justice.
Tracks: 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; various lineups.