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Charlie Parker: Washington DC, 1948

David Rickert By

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Charlie Parker inspired a Grateful Dead-like fervor for taping his live appearances as the steady stream of unreleased concert performances attests. Many of these recordings are of questionable quality though, and this 1948 Washington DC performance is captured on acetate and has as much crackle and hiss as music. The microphone placement never comes close to picking up all the nuances of the blowing. However, the zealous are always willing to overlook these shortcomings as long as the music is good enough.

In this case, however, the participants will be of marginal interest, with the exception of Buddy Rich who, as always, channels his cantankerousness into his kit. The rest of the group is made up of Washington DC players, as this concert was designed to spotlight the old and new musicians on the scene. Thus Parker is joined by obscure names like Charlie Walp and Rob Swope, who had come from Rich's band, and Rob's brother Earl, on loan from Boyd Raeburn's orchestra. None have the chops to keep up with Parker and Rich, and although Bird was at the top of his game around this time, he seems hindered by the talent. The real treat should have been a run through of "C Jam Blues" with Parker, Wild Bill Davidson, and Benny Morton (who handled the first part of the show); however, this number was cut short when Davidson stormed off of the stage after an alleged insult by Parker.

To Uptown's credit, the liner notes for this release are about as extensive as you can get for a single CD. Not only are there historical essays and reminiscences from the likes of Ira Gitler, but also detailed biographies and pictures of the musicians that accompanied Bird on stage. However, it's a CD that ultimately will fail to please most, and is for completists only.


Track Listing: Tiny's Blues; Bernie's Tune; These Foolish Things; Scrapple From the Apple; Ornithology; Koko; C Jam Blues.

Personnel: Charlie Parker: alto sax; Earl Swope: trombone; Ben Lary; tenor sax; Charlie Walp: trumpet; Mert Oliver: bass; Sam Krupit: piano; Joe Theimer: drums; Buddy Rich: drums; Art Phipps: bass; Tony Parenti: clarinet; Wild Bill Davidson: cornet; Benny Morton: trombone.

Title: Washington DC, 1948 | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Uptown Records

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