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Detroit Bop Quintet: Two Birds

Mark Corroto By

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On December 21st 1947 Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Duke Jordan, Tommy Potter, and Max Roach recorded four Parker compositions for Savoy at United Sound Systems recording studio in Detroit, Michigan. Parker's Quintet was in town for two weeks, performing and backing Sarah Vaughan at the El Sino Club. It appears that Parker hustled to lay down four sides before the 1948 recording ban was to go into effect. This is the same studio that would later record John Lee Hooker, Dizzy Gillespie, and early Berry Gordy Motown sessions.

Sixty-six years, seven months, and twenty-nine days later that session was reconvened at the same studio, with modern players to re-enact that fateful day. Unlike Mostly Other People Do the Killing' recreation of Miles Davis' Kind Of Blue (Columbia, 1959), this version of the Detroit Bop Quintet, saxophonist Pete Mills, trumpeter Dwight Adams, pianist Rick Roe, bassist Paul Keller, and drummer Nate Winn emulates rather than imitates the original.

Producer Ron Skinner and engineer Nick Bonin utilize a ten microphone setup, rather than the 4 or 6 the Siracuse family used to capture Bird. There was no real need to have Mills and Adams share a mic, as did Parker and Davis. The two tracks released here, "Bluebird" and "Another Hair-Do," are pressed into warm mono 7-inch vinyl to be spun at 45rpm. But this is also the 21st century, and the music is also available as a download in mono, stereo, and 5.1 surround.

The charm of this session is the intimacy of the music making. The players are in one room, facing each other with no distracting barriers or headphones. The track lengths, "Bluebird" at 3:19 and "Another Hair-Do" at 3:25 are concise, succinct jukebox hit fodder, a commodity sorely lacking from today's jazz releases. Pete Mills sets aside his trademark tenor for alto here, not necessarily impersonating Bird (because who can?) but coexisting within the bebop era of the late 1940s. The same is true of Adam's take on "Bluebird" and the muted trumpet of Miles. "Another Hair-Do," a blues re-do requires repeated spins to catch the slurry spill of trumpet, the funky hip switch of saxophone, and Roe's nursery rhyming piano. The music downloads might deliver the clearest sound available, but spinning the 7-inch, may I suggest, with the inevitable clicks and pops that come with vinyl, is the best strategy to set your own way-back machine.

Track Listing: Bluebird; Another Hair-Do.

Personnel: Paul Keller: bass; Dwight Adams: trumpet; Nate Winn: drums; Pete Mills: alto saxophone; Rick Roe: piano.

Title: Two Birds | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Top Quality Music

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