389

Charlie Parker: The Complete Legendary Rockland Palace Concert

By

Sign in to view read count
In the fall of 1952, alto saxophonist Charlie Parker, a cofounder of bebop, was already on the slope of physical decline that led to his death less than two years later. His performances were not always reliable, but he was still capable of superlative playing, as proved by this recording of a concert on September 26 at the Rockland Palace in Harlem. It was a benefit for Benjamin Davis, a Communist and city councilman whose conviction on political charges was a cause celebre of the day. There, in front of thousands of dancers, Parker played with his quintet (Walter Bishop, piano; Mundell Lowe, guitar; Teddy Kotick, bass; Max Roach, drums) and a string section, a project which was very important to him despite the blandness of most of the arrangements he had at his disposal. (We can only dream about how that might have changed had he lived.)

Tapes of this concert have long been in circulation among collectors and were even released, but their quality was unredeemable. The discovery of another set of tapes, much more professionally done and including more of the evening's music, made possible this reissue. Audiophiles must beware, but if they are also music-lovers they will overlook the sound, which is far removed from today's standards, and concentrate on the bright and shining music on the other side. (Doug Pomeroy must be applauded for his heroic work constructing this CD from the 44-year-old tapes.)

Once the ear gets used to the trebly atmosphere, the relative faintness of the back-up band and the wavering, ghostly background presence of the strings, Parker's dashing, charismatic alto soon focuses the mind. Unlike many of his live sessions with small groups, where his genius can be heard in spontaneous, risky flights often delivered with a kind of off-hand panache, here Parker must be careful not to clash with the strings behind him. Rather than box him in, this constraint seems to give him energy, as he concentrates on crafting vibrant statements that work with the written arrangements. He is exuberant, lyrical, swift, bursting out with ideas in a superb expression of what critic Gary Giddins called his "blues-based vision."

Walter Bishop was saddled with a substandard piano and we don't hear much of Mundell Lowe, but Max Roach's ringing cymbals shine through the sonic murk. His lightning reactions and terrific swing are the motor moving it all forward, and there is Bird at the front of the proceedings, playing at all times with sheer joy and thrilling aplomb. There is no point listing high points, since there are so many. Along with plentiful standards like "Stardust", "April in Paris," "Just Friends" or "Out of Nowhere," we are treated to two Gerry Mulligan tunes, "Rocker" and "Gold Rush," Neil Hefti's "Repetition," a calypso number called "Sly Mongoose," Parker originals "Ornithology" and "Cool Blues" and an athletic race through Lester Young's "Lester Leaps In" that has been transformed, thanks to the two separate recordings of the performance, into (ahem) "true stereo." "Live at Rockland Palace" is an indispensable example of Charlie Parker in full flight.


Title: The Complete Legendary Rockland Palace Concert | Year Released: 1997 | Record Label: Jazz Classics


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Estonian Suite: Live In Tallinn CD/LP/Track Review Estonian Suite: Live In Tallinn
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: November 18, 2017
Read The Princess CD/LP/Track Review The Princess
by Mark Corroto
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Queen City Blues CD/LP/Track Review Queen City Blues
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Latin Lover CD/LP/Track Review Latin Lover
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Reclamation CD/LP/Track Review Reclamation
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Provenance CD/LP/Track Review Provenance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 17, 2017
Read "Piano, Violin, Viola, Cello" CD/LP/Track Review Piano, Violin, Viola, Cello
by John Eyles
Published: July 11, 2017
Read "Thank You For Coming To Life" CD/LP/Track Review Thank You For Coming To Life
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 2, 2017
Read "Falling Forward" CD/LP/Track Review Falling Forward
by James Nadal
Published: July 27, 2017
Read "Apocalypse" CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse
by Julian Derry
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "You & I" CD/LP/Track Review You & I
by James Nadal
Published: June 4, 2017
Read "Reclamation" CD/LP/Track Review Reclamation
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 18, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.

Please support out sponsor