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A Night at Birdland, Vol. 1 Original recording reissued, Live

4.8 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 31, 2001)
  • Rmst ed. edition
  • Original Release Date: 1954
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording reissued, Live
  • Label: Blue Note
  • ASIN: B00005MIZ8
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,825 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert Bezimienny on May 4, 2002
Format: Audio CD
Five stars! And Volume 2 is even better! This is one of the best places to hear Clifford Brown, live and in extended format - better in fact than in the Blue Note albums under his name (he also appears in Volume 1 of J.J.Johnson's recent remaster). All these musicians are on fire, but some of Brownie's solos are just unbelievable. Be-Bop, Hard-Bop, call it whatever you like, this is some of the most exciting music you're ever likely to hear.
*
The remastering is fantastic. The difference between this and the original transfer is staggering - if you own the old and you're hesitating to buy the new, then don't hesitate any longer: it's almost as if you've never heard the music before, there is that much added detail and presence. Yes, it's a live mono recording from February 21st, 1954, but the sound is more vivid that most contemporary recordings (say, Joshua Redman's Village Vanguard set).
*
Of Art Blakey's numerous other recordings, I'd also recommend 'Mosaic', 'Free for All', and 'The African Beat', although many others contend. But make sure you listen to Volume 2 of this set - the opening version of 'Wee-dot' is one of my favourite jazz perfomances of all time. How could Clifford Brown die so young?? An enormous tragedy.
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Format: Audio CD
From the very opening moments of these remarkable recordings, one is at once struck by the sense that a moment of historical importance is being witnessed all over again. Blue Note's Alfred Lion, in his unerring vision, decided to record Art Blakey's new band at Birdland in February 1954. He had rightly sensed that something new, something thrillingly new, was afoot. Though Charlie Parker was still a year from death, bop was demanding an invigorating lease of life to take it into a new dimension of expressiveness and vitality. The resulting transformation of the now hackneyed music into something raw, urgent and fizzing with energy was to be popularly called "hard bop", and was thrust into public consciousness on this record, and its sister volume (Birdland, Vol. 2 - which should be purchased with Vol. 1). The set opens with a presentation by Birdland's MC, the quirky, shrill-voiced Pee Wee Marquette. The sheer confidence of the ensemble emerges instantly: Art Blakey had assembled the hottest combo of the moment. Even Miles Davis, who had attended a rehearsal shortly before the recording, had sarcastically expressed a desire for Clifford Brown to "break his chops". He was clearly awestruck by Brownie's now legendary round, fat tone, and a seemingly limitless capacity to conjure up melodies and counter-melodies, weaving in perfectly-executed arpeggios to accentuate the harmonic changes. His solo on "Quicksilver" is brimming with all of these qualities - no wonder Miles was intimidated. Lou Donaldson's first solo on "Split-Kick" is right out of the Charlie Parker-inspired tradition. But it emerges throughout the records that Donaldson's attack, tone and phraseology is confidently his own.Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD
With no intended slights to Louis, Diz, Miles, Wynton and all the others, for many trumpeters and other musicians Clifford Brown was the Bird of the trumpet--all the more fitting that his finest hour should be this session captured live at Birdland. Clifford had that timbre, akin to Pops and Bird at their best, that made the horn sound like two instruments playing in unison. There was no holding back, no merely "cool" or "playful" licks, no "hip" cliches. It was all about risk, passion, soaring lyricism--especially with Art Blakey on hand. Volume One strikes me as the better of the two albums--certainly the more dramatic (Pee Wee Marquette's announcement of the musicians along with Blakey's introduction of "A Night in Tunisia" must be included among the highlights ). The only weakness of the album would have to be Lou Donaldson's playing which, though competent, is no match for the level of musicianship of his colleague. The 4-bar solo break at the end of the first chorus of "Night in Tunisia," the one made famous by Charlie Parker's never-equaled statement on the 1947 Carnegie Hall concert, is given to Donaldson (who flounders, flubs, merely fills space) rather than Clifford. Too bad, because I have a hunch Brownie could have held his own even in direct comparison with Bird.
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Format: Audio CD
As named in the profile section, this is in my personal top 5. The reasons are twofold: it is LIVE, and Brownie is there. There is something about LIVE, when it is right - like Duke in '56 at Newport, Diz in '57, Joao at Montreaux in '85 - that calls history into sharp focus. This does that, as does Volume 2. Sure, there is a 'clam' or two, like Donaldson on the harmony coming back in on "Split Kick", but it makes it human, and more fun. The tempos are smokin' without being pushed too fast (Blakey makes sure of it) and the give-and-take between the players, as well as the conversing by MC Pee Wee Marquette, and Blakey's intro to "Night In Tunisia" give the feel of the event. Horace Silver and Lou Donaldson are perfect with Brownie, and Blakey plays loose and fast on this gig. Curly Russell rounds out the quintet. If you like your bop hard AND soulful, you will definately dig this.
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