For over two decades, the Hi-Hat Club occupied a choice location among the jazz clubs of Boston’s South End district, at the corner of Columbus and Massachusetts Avenue. After the end of World War II, lesser luminaries took over the band-stand, and after a while entertainment practically stopped altogether. Dave Coleman, a jazz promoter, had taken over management of the club in 1949. Through Coleman’s personal initiative, the Hi-Hat enjoyed its most successful years, and by 1951 it was the only club featuring a consistent policy of presenting modern jazz.
This second installment in the Classics Charlie Parker chronology contains quite a number of Bird's best-loved and most respected recordings. The first 12 tracks, recorded in New York for the Dial label in October and November of 1947, are all masterpieces of modern music, with the ballads, especially "Embraceable You," constituting some of Parker's very best recorded work. This is the classic 1947 quintet with Miles Davis, Duke Jordan, Tommy Potter, and Max Roach. Even if his personal life was characteristically chaotic, 1947 was a good year for Charlie Parker's music. It was in November 1947 that this band hit the road to play the El Sino Club on St. Antoine Boulevard in Detroit. Unfortunately, Bird got really snockered and couldn't perform, so the El Sino management canceled the gig. Bird ultimately destroyed his saxophone by throwing it out of a hotel window onto the street below. (A tragic and disturbing image!) Back in New York, the band – now a sextet with the addition of trombonist J.J. Johnson – made six more sides for Dial on December 17, 1947.
Musicians like to observe that for all his notoriety as the wellspring of bebop, Charlie "Bird" Parker's music was loaded with the blues. SWEDISH SCHNAPPS is as good a place as any to make that connection with Parker's music, including as it does two of his most enduring bop heads based on the blues, "Au Privave" and "Blues For Alice." While you wouldn't mistake either composition for a Muddy Waters tune, both relate Bird's off-kilter accents and serpentine melodicism at walking tempos that let you hear what's actually going by, instead of leaving you astonished but bemused. To really drive the point home, there's "K.C. Blues," which finds the altoist at his hollerin' best, and "Lover Man," certainly one of the bluesiest 32-bar standards around.
Recorded between 1947 and 1952, the Charlie Parker With Strings albums showcased the legendary bebop saxophonist performing standards and ballads backed by a small classical string ensemble and jazz rhythm section. Although somewhat controversial when first released, the strings sessions are largely considered landmarks for orchestral jazz productions and rank among the best albums in Parker's discography.
Discovering previously unheard music is a consistent hope for serious jazz fans. Finding unreleased music from legends, especially those who departed far too early with their legacies incomplete, is a true joy. Fans, scholars and collectors who want to have a complete overview on Charlie Parker’s work and career can now dig into a new collection of previously unreleased tracks.