Charlie Parker – The Happy Bird (1961; recorded 1951)

FrontCover1.JPGCharles Parker Jr. (August 29, 1920 – March 12, 1955), also known as Yardbird and Bird, was an American jazz saxophonist and composer. Parker was a highly influential jazz soloist and a leading figure in the development of bebop, a form of jazz characterized by fast tempos, virtuosic technique and advanced harmonies. Parker was a blazingly fast virtuoso, and he introduced revolutionary harmonic ideas including rapid passing chords, new variants of altered chords, and chord substitutions. His tone ranged from clean and penetrating to sweet and somber. Parker acquired the nickname “Yardbird” early in his career on the road with Jay McShann. This, and the shortened form “Bird”, continued to be used for the rest of his life, inspiring the titles of a number of Parker compositions, such as “Yardbird Suite”, “Ornithology”, “Bird Gets the Worm”, and “Bird of Paradise”. Parker was an icon for the hipster subculture and later the Beat Generation, personifying the jazz musician as an uncompromising artist and intellectual rather than just an entertainer. (by wikipedia)

Charlie Parker01.jpg

The weak recording quality hurts this album a bit but it does offer extended performances of “Scrapple from the Apple” (over 15 minutes), “I Remember April” and “Lullaby in Rhythm” (mislabelled “I May Be Wrong”) in addition to a short blues. These jam sessions, in addition to altoist Charlie Parker, feature solos from tenor-saxophonist Wardell Gray, pianist Dick Twardzik and trumpeter Benny Harris; bassist Charles Mingus and drummer Roy Haynes are fine in support. Not essential music but recommended if seen at a budget price. (by Scott Yanow)

I first heard this when I was a teenager in the 1980s, borrowed as a scratched LP from a family friend. I remember walking to the bus stop each day with Wardell Gray’s solo on Lullaby in Rhythm (not “I May Be Wrong” as on all the listings) ringing in my head. Nearly 30 years later I got it digitally and the magic is still there in spades. It’s an amazing recording, a bunch of jazz stars recorded on home-made equipment in a fairly choppy restaurant (you can hear a fight almost breaking out in the background of one track) but the quality of the music shines through the years and the smoke. Wonderful music loaded with atmosphere. (by Paul)

Recorded April 12, 1951, live at Christy’s Restaurant, Framingham, MA
Recorded between Dec. 8 & 12, 1952, live at the Hi Hat Club, Boston

AlternateFrontCovers.JPGAlternate frontcovers

Wardell Gray (saxophone)
Jack Lawlor (bass)
Joe MacDonald (drums)
Howard McGhee (trumpet)
Charlie Parker (saxophone)
Nat Pierce (piano)
Joe Gordon (trumpet on 03.)
Roy Haynes (drums on 03.)
Charles Mingus (bass on 03.)
Dick Twardzik (piano on 03.)
Bill Wellington (saxophone 0n 03.)


01. Happy Bird Blues (Parker) 2.57
02. Scrapple From The Apple (Parker) 15.49
03. I Remember April (Raye/DePaul/Johnston) 10.46
04. I May Be Wrong (Lullaby In Rhythm) (Ruskind/Sullivan) 12.52



Charlie Parker02
Charles Parker Jr. (August 29, 1920 – March 12, 1955)


Charlie Parker – Complete Jazz At Massey Hall (2003)

FrontCover1.jpgJazz at Massey Hall is a live jazz album featuring a performance by “The Quintet” given on 15 May 1953 at Massey Hall in Toronto. The quintet was composed of several leading ‘modern’ players of the day: Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Charles Mingus, and Max Roach. It was the only time that the five men recorded together as a unit, and it was the last recorded meeting of Parker and Gillespie.

The first pianist considered by the organizers was Lennie Tristano, but he suggested Powell as a more appropriate match for the other musicians. Oscar Pettiford was considered as an alternative to Mingus.

Parker played a Grafton saxophone on this date; he could not be listed on the original album cover for contractual reasons, so was billed as “Charlie Chan”, an allusion to the fictional detective and to Parker’s wife Chan.

The original plan was for the Toronto New Jazz Society and the musicians to share the profits from the recording. However, owing to a boxing prize fight between Rocky Marciano and Jersey Joe Walcott taking place simultaneously, the audience was so small that the Society was unable to pay the musicians’ fees. The musicians were all given NSF checks, and only Parker was able to actually cash his; Gillespie noted that he did not receive his fee “for years and years”.

The record was originally issued on Mingus’s label Debut, from a recording made by the Toronto New Jazz Society (Dick Wattam, Alan Scharf, Roger Feather, Boyd Raeburn and Arthur Granatstein[6][7]). Mingus took the recording to New York where he and Max Roach dubbed in the bass lines, which were under-recorded on most of the tunes, and exchanged Mingus soloing on “All the Things You Are”.

A 2003 reissue, Complete Jazz at Massey Hall, contains the full concert, without the overdubbing. (by wikipedia)


This concert was held at Massey Hall in Toronto, Canada on May 15, 1953, and was recorded by bassist Charles Mingus, who overdubbed some additional bass parts and issued it on his own Debut label as the Quintet’s Jazz at Massey Hall. Charlie Parker (listed on the original album sleeve as “Charlie Chan”) performed on a plastic alto, pianist Bud Powell was stone drunk from the opening bell, and Dizzy Gillespie kept popping offstage to check on the status of the first Rocky Marciano-Jersey Joe Walcott heavyweight championship bout. Subsequent editions of this evening were released as a double-live album (featuring Bud Powell’s magnificent piano trio set with Mingus and Roach), dubbed The Greatest Jazz Concert Ever. The hyperbole is well-deserved, because at the time of this concert, each musician on Jazz at Massey Hall was considered to be the principle instrumental innovator within the bebop movement.


All of these musicians were influenced by Charlie Parker, and their collective rapport is magical. As a result, their fervent solos on the uptempo tunes (“Salt Peanuts” and “Wee”) seem to flow like one uninterrupted idea. “All the Things You Are” redefines Jerome Kern’s classic ballad, with frequent echoes of “Grand Canyon Suite” from Bird and Diz, and a ruminative solo by Powell. And on Gillespie’s classic “Night in Tunisia,” the incomparable swagger of Bird’s opening break is matched by the keening emotional intensity of Gillespie’s daredevil flight. A legendary set, no matter how or when or where it’s issued.(by allmusic)

What a line-up !


Alternate frontcover

Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet)
Charles Mingus (bass)
Charlie Parker (saxophone)
Bud Powell (piano)
Max Roach (drums)

Tracks 5 through 11 are without Parker and Gillespie.

01. Perdido (Tizol) 8.16
02. Salt Peanuts (Gillespie/Clarke) 7.38
03. All the Things You Are (Kern) 7.14
04. 52nd Street Theme (Monk) 0.43
05. Drum Conversation (Roach) 4.38
06. Cherokee (Noble) 4.56
07. Embraceable You (Gershwin) 4.25
08. Hallelujah (Jubilee) (Youmans) 4.01
09. Sure Thing (Powell) 2.13
10. Lullaby of Birdland (Shearing) 2.34
11. I’ve Got You Under My Skin (Porter) 3.02
12. Wee (Allen’s Alley) (Best) 6.47
13. Hot House (Dameron) 9.10
14. A Night in Tunisia (Gillespie/Paparelli) 7.34





Massey Hall, Toronto

Charlie Parker – Plays Cole Porter (1957; recorded in 1954 )

FrontCover1.jpgI normally avoid describing music on an album if there are sound samples. As of the date of this review there are neither samples nor a track list, so I will point out that on most of the tracks Bird stays close to Porter’s original melody lines. Contrast this to the Charlie Parker With Strings: Complete Master Takes album where he lets the string ensemble handle the melody while he rephrased his parts that seemed to float over the top of the melody. On this album Bird phrased closer to how Porter envisioned the songs.

The alternate takes on this album add a touch of history, and, also, the tracks on this one are very well documented as to who was on which session. For we total fanatics (A.K.A. crazies) this is important. Also, since this page does not have a track listing, this is what you get:

This album was originally released in 1957 in Mono and the tracks on this disc are reasonably true to the original. There are reissues floating around that have what I consider to be less than optimum mastering, but I am pretty happy this this particular issue, which was originally released in 2004 – close to the time frame in which I purchased my copy.

If you are a die hard fan this may be a good addition to your library. I have this and The Cole Porter Songbook, which I prefer over this one as I stated above. Please bear in mind that I am neither an audiophile nor a purist. As to which album is best – that is a personal choice that only you can make. Honestly, I do not believe that you will go wrong either way. (by Mike Tarrani)

Track 01. – 05: Recorded in New York on March 31, 1954
Track 06. – 09:  Recorded in New York on December 10, 1954

Charlie Parker

Walter Bishop junior (piano)
Jerome Darr (guitar)
Roy Haynes (drums)
Kenny Kotick (bass)
Charlie Parker (saxophone)
Billy Bauer (guitar on 06 – 09.)
Art Taylor (drums on 06. – 09.)


01. I Get A Kick Out Of You 5.05
02. I Get A Kick Out Of You (alt.) 3.44
03. Just One Of Those Things 2.48
04. My Heart Belongs To Daddy 3.27
05. I’ve Got You Under My Skin 3.45
06. Love For Sale 5.47
07. Love For Sale (alt.) 5.46
08. I Love Paris 5.19
09. I Love Paris (alt.) 5.21

Music written by Cole Porter




Dizzy Gillespie & Charlie Parker – Town Hall NYC, June 22, 1945 (2005)

FrontCover1The historic live Town Hall sessions by Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker from 1945 have been discovered on an acetate pressing, and are transferred with digital enhancement to CD. Why this concert was not issued initially is understandable, but Ira Gitler’s informative and insightful liner notes suggest they likely were misplaced. What Gitler’s essential writing also reveals is that these dates were approximate by only weeks to the original studio recordings of these classics, and there was no small amount of controversy surrounding this revolutionary bebop. Clearly bop was a vehicle for intricate melodic invention followed by lengthy soloing, aspects of which Parker with Gillespie were perfectly suited for. Fact is, the situation surrounding the sonic capture and extended neglected shelf life of this performance was far from optimal.


Symphony Sid Torin is the M.C., rambling as always, making repeated references to Dizzy “Jillespie” and misidentifying Max Roach as Sid Catlett on “Salt Peanuts.” (Catlett does sit in on “Hot House” in a more supportive than demonstrative role.) The tracks with the brilliant Roach are on fire, particularly the super-hot “Salt Peanuts,” with pianist Al Haig flying beside him. Haig is perhaps the most impressive musician. The rhythm section, especially Haig, is more present in the mix and up front, while the trumpet and alto sax are buried. As the concert progresses, it gets better, with Gillespie’s muted trumpet clearer. Parker lays back on the mike, but not in spirit or bravado for “Interlude,” which is now known as “A Night in Tunisia,” and better balanced during “Groovin’ High,” which was originally titled “Whispering.”

There seems to be an unplanned slight key chance in the bridge of “Groovin’ High.” A late-arriving Parker was in part replaced by tenor saxophonist Don Byas, who sounds terrific on the opener, “Bebop,” until Parker steps on-stage and ups the ante. At under 41 minutes in length, this can be looked upon as a historical document, likely appealing only to completists. But the overriding factor of previously undiscovered Diz and Bird makes the CD something all bebop fans should readily embrace, despite its audio deficiencies. (Michael G. Nastos)


Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet)
Al Haig (piano)
Charlie Parker (saxophone)
Max Roach (drums)
Curley Russell (bass)
Don Byas (saxophone on 01.)
Sidney Catlett (drums on 05. + 06.)

01. Intro 1.20
02-  Bebop (Gillespie) 7.11
03. A Night In Tunisia (Gillespie/Paparelli) 7.34
04. Groovin’ High (Gillespie) 7.16
05. Salt Peanuts (Clarke/Gillespie) 7.52
06. Hot House (Dameron) 7.14
07. Fifty Second Street Theme (Monk) 2.14



Charlie Parker – April In Paris (1957)

CharlieParkerAprilInParisFCCharlie Parker’s digital discography is peppered with collections using the words “April in Paris” as part of the title. Released in 2000, Blue Night’s budget edition contains only about 45 minutes of music extracted from Bird’s Verve catalog, the body of works that map much of his progress during the last few years of his short life. The 12 recordings that make up this little taste were made under the supervision of Norman Granz between November 30, 1949 and March 31, 1954 and feature such brilliant improvisers as Coleman Hawkins, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Red Rodney, Max Roach, and Roy Haynes. Charles Parker is also backed by orchestras operating under the leadership of Joe Lippman, Jimmy Carroll, and Gil Evans. While literally dozens of better Charlie Parker samplers are available, if you have bumped into a copy of Blue Night’s April in Paris you should probably snap it up so as to have ready access to a pediatric dose of Bird on Verve. (by arwulf arwulf)The genius of Bird and strings is hard to describe – an edgey aproach that really goes far past most other “jazz with strings” projects, not a ballad-driven one, but a tensely strained one that brings out some of Parker’s best soloing, almost in a moody soundtrack-type way. The tracks are a lot freer and less bop-driven than some of Bird’s normal work, and it’s incredible to hear him soloing with such complexity – even more proof of the genius he clearly exhibited in relation to his contemporaries. (by dusty groove)

Frank Brieff (viola)
Eddie Brown (oboe)
Maurice Brown (cello)
Ray Brown (bass)
Sam Caplan (violin)
Stan Freeman (piano)
Bronislaw Gimpel (violin)
Max Hollander (violin)
Howard Kay violin)
Harry Melnikoff (violin)
Charlie Parker (saxophone)
Bernie Leighton (piano)
Milton Lomask (violin)
Frank Miller (cello)
Mitch Miller (oboe)
Verley Mills (harp)
Sam Rand (violin)
Myor Rosen (harp)
Buddy Rich (drums)
Joseph Singer (french horn)
Zelly Smirnoff (violin)
Isadore Zir (viola)

Arranged & conducted by Jimmy Carroll & Joe Lipman


01. April In Paris (Duke/Harburg) 3.09
02. Summertime (Gershwin) 2.49
03. If I Should Lose You (Rainger/Robin) 2.49
04. I Didn´t Know What Time It Was (Hart/Rodgers) 3.15
05. Everything Happens To Me (Adair/Carmichael/Dennis/Mercer) 3.10
06. Just Friends (Klenner/Lewis) 3.32
07. They Can´t Take That Away From Me (Gershwin) 3.21
08. Out Of Nowhere (Green/Heyman) 3.08
09. East Of The Sun (And West Of The Moon) (Bowman) 3.42
10. Easy To Love (Porter) 3.31
11. I´m In The Mood For Love (Fields/McHugh) 3.35
12. I´ll Remember April (DePaul/Johnston/Raye) 3.06
13. Dancing In The Dark (Dietz/Schwartz) 3.13
14. Laura (Mercer/Raksin) 2.59
15. Autumn In New York (Duke) 3.31
16. Stella By Starlight (Washington/Young) 2.57