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Complete Live Performances on Savoy: Sept. 29, 1947-Oct. 25, 1950 Live

4.5 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Live, April 26, 2009
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Given that most jazz historians consider Bird's early Savoy recordings to be his best, this 4-CD set occupies some rarefied air in the world of jazz reissues. The first three CDs consist of his Royal Roost broadcasts from September 1948 through March 1949; this material has been reissued before, but never with such good sound and judicious editing (emcee Symphony Sid is not as ubiquitous or as annoying). And disc four includes a rare 1947 concert in New York with Diz and John Lewis among others, plus a Chicago date with two members of the Windy City's first family of jazz, the Freemans. Together, it's the complete performance recordings of Charlie Parker's early years, assembled for the first time and absolutely essential. Salt Peanuts; Ornithology; Groovin' High the birth of bebop!

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For years, the audio quality of many of the performances gathered on these four CDs prevented a full-on embrace, what with all the other available Charlie Parker out there. But this collection restores these sessions to notoriety. They're mostly from New York's Royal Roost, 1948 to 1950, but with a 1947 Carnegie Hall supergroup concert and a 1950 Chicago pickup date that boasts some unknowns--and undersung guitarist George Freeman--with Parker. First, the single drawback: emcee and radio host "Symphony Sid" Torin's sometimes obsequious, faux-hipster shtick that bookends several of the tunes. Rest assured, though, Torin makes only brief intros and outros. Beyond that, these are all stellar works. The quintet on three of the CDs (the Royal Roost sessions) features Parker with Miles Davis on much of CD 1, highlighting the clipped fire of bebop's architecture being tunneled under by Davis's mellow-tone brass. Even when Kenny Dorham takes over on trumpet, the alchemy is built on contrast, Parker's raspy, fast wit and Dorham's wry (but often likemindedly fast) ripostes. Pianists Tadd Dameron and Al Haig make great showings, as does Max Roach, pushing the energy with a loose attack that defies the fact that the majority of these performances were for radio. The more-famed quintet fronted by Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and pianist John Lewis (famed cofounder of the Modern Jazz Quartet) closes the collection with five tunes from a 1947 Carnegie Hall concert. Parker seems more restrained, Gillespie gleeful, and Lewis characteristically spare. But the playing is first-rate, whether at light-speed (as on "Dizzy Atmosphere") or at the loping clip of "Groovin' High." --Andrew Bartlett
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