Jazz 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). 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 !
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