Monday, July 23, 2012

Charlie Parker – Live Performances


   Jazz is undoubtedly the musical symbol of 20th century. It is considered as an expression of collective self as much as movies and culture of mass production. Among many phenomenal jazz performers only few became legends of 20th century. Otherwise than in cinema, where visual image constitutes a product, in music value comes out of musical creativity but popularity is build in most cases on different kinds of narration. Most effective since romanticism were stories on premature death. Sometimes this kind of legend gives only short life but when it concerns composer like Mozart, Schubert, it is only pretext for real recognition of great personality. This is also the case of iconic modern jazz artist Charlie Parker. Known also under his nickname Bird (shortened form of Yardbird), Parker died before reaching 35 years of age.
   Even 57 years after Charlie Parker’s death his musical heritage is still considered as a turning point in the history of jazz. He was the one who fully expressed young generation’s point of view and broke bonds with swinging and dancing music of prewar orchestras. His improvisations were more freely, passing altering chords in virtuoso passages and fast tempos. His improvised choruses have clear intellectual distance and flexible, sometimes even abstract emotional significance. The typical band had changed. Modern jazz combos’ lineups were reduced to saxophone and trumpet, piano or guitar, bass and drums, sometimes with second saxophone or trombone. This gave totally new sound and much wider space for improvisation. And while theme has became to be only a starting point, improvisation was more and more important, becoming the central topic of every performance.

Charlie Parker’s – Live Performances (1978)

   The history of creating bebop style is in fact hard to trace. There are almost no recordings of early concertos in clubs. Some tracks remained only as radio recordings of live performances. These recordings were compiled on two Charlie Parker’s albums published by ESP label in 1972 as Live Performances and in 1973 as Broadcast Performances. These recordings have been published in various sets and selections. In 1978 Live Performances vol. 1 has been republished in Poland by Polskie Nagrania. First volume of Parkers radio broadcasting recordings has special feature. Opening A-Side Tiger Rag was recorded September 20th, 1947 by legendary Barry Ulanov’s All Stars Modern Jazz Musicians where Parker played together with his long time trumpet partner Dizzy Gillespie, clarinetist John La Porta, pianist Lennie Tristano, bassist Ray Brown and drummer Max Roach. 
   The main part of the album is the seven recordings of Charlie Parker All Stars from Royal Roost club in New York. Two sessions were taken December 11th and 25th, 1948 – first lineup with Miles Davis (Groovin’ High, Big Foot, Ornithology and Slow Boat to China) and second with Kenny Dorham (Half Nelson, White Christmas, Little Willie Leaps). The rest of musicians in both quintets were Charlie Parker, pianist Al Haig, bassist Tommy Potter and drummer Max Roach. Program of second volume were live recordings of both lineups of Charlie Parker All Stars from Royal Roost from September 4th, 1948 and January 1st, 1949. Technical quality of this recordings sometimes can be little disappointing, especially when it is limiting the information about interpretations, phrasing, articulation. But this is still a chance for getting to know the real beginnings of modern jazz.

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