As Ornette Coleman said, "Charlie Parker was blessed with the eternal quality of existing forever." The brief trajectory of Parker's career has directly or indirectly affected all saxophonists who have followed him. Sadly, the machinations and pressures of fame were more than this basically fragile man could bear, and he died at age 34 in 1955.
The Savoy imprint, after being acquired by an assortment of companies over the years, has been reinvigorated to celebrate its 60th anniversary. This three-disc set includes all of Parker's work for the Dial and Savoy labels (excluding alternate takes--hence the title). It starts off with his appearance as a sideman with the Tiny Grimes Quintette, at which time the 24-year-old's alto saxophone playing bears his unmistakable stamp of fluidity and daring aplomb. The stellar lights of bebop are heard throughout this set, as Parker plays with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, and Max Roach, creating the enduring shape of contemporary jazz. --David Greenberger