Alert Charlie Parker fans were delighted when this 1996 CD came out for it includes two previously unreleased (and well-recorded) radio broadcasts featuring the masterful altoist. Parker is in fine form during his two appearances at Boston's Hi Hat. With Symphony Sid as the disc jockey (he gets Bird to say a few words here and there), Parker romps through his usual repertoire, finding something fresh to say on songs that he had already been playing at least five years.
Charlie Poole wasn't a particularly brilliant banjo player (although his later three-finger-style picking would set the table for the advent of bluegrass banjo a couple of decades after his death), and he wasn't the world's greatest vocalist either, but he had a certain devil-may-care charisma that made him a superstar in the string band era of the 1920s. Poole's greatest talent – aside from an ability to go on long drinking sprees and to manage to be at the center of things even in his absence – was in his song adaptations, which drew from sources outside the standard Appalachian fiddle tunes and reels, including pop, ragtime, and blues. This extensive 96-track, four-disc box set from Britain's JSP Records collects the lion's share of his recordings on Columbia, Poole's label from 1925 until his death in 1931 at the age of 39. Also included are a handful of cuts Poole made under the table for Paramount (where his North Carolina Ramblers were called the Highlanders) and Brunswick (which saw the band disguised as the Allegheny Highlanders).
This collection of 78 rpm singles, all recorded on June 6, 1950, was originally issued in album format in 1956. Several things distinguish this from numerous other quintet recordings featuring these two bebop pioneers. It was recorded during the period that Parker was working under the aegis of producer Norman Granz, whose preference for large and unusual ensembles was notorious. The end result in this case is a date that sounds very much like those that Parker and Gillespie recorded for Savoy and Dial, except with top-of-the-line production quality. Even more interesting, though, is Parker's choice of Thelonious Monk as pianist.
Calling this retrospective by Charlie Musselwhite a "deluxe edition" may be a little misleading. Twelve of the album's 14 tracks come from three albums he recorded for Alligator in the early '90s. There are four each from Ace of Harps (1990), Signature (1991), and In My Time (1993). The sequencing is beautifully done and representative. The true curiosities are two unissued cuts. The first is "Lotsa Poppa," an outtake from the In My Time sessions. The cut itself isn't such a revelation, but Musselwhite's harp playing and singing is. His delivery is signature in that he is always slow and relaxed yet just underneath. There in the grain of his voice is something else, something that smolders. The final cut here is from Musselwhite's private collection of tapes and it was recorded at home in the early '60s. It features the legendary Will Shade instructing a very young Musselwhite on guitar and singing with him. This is priceless archival blues history and is a fine bookend.