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.
Illness, exhaustion and a national recording ban imposed by executives heading the American Federation of Musicians forced Stan Kenton to disband and withdraw from the music scene in December 1948. The hiatus lasted until February 1950, when he resumed making records for the Capitol label (see Classics 1185, Stan Kenton & His Orchestra 1950). Classics 1255, 1950-1951, which is the seventh volume in the Classics Kenton chronology, contains all of the recordings he made with his big band between May 18 1950 and March 20 1951. By and large, Kenton's music sounded better than ever during this period.
Art Tatum was among the most extraordinary of all jazz musicians, a pianist with wondrous technique who could not only play ridiculously rapid lines with both hands (his 1933 solo version of "Tiger Rag" sounds as if there were three pianists jamming together) but was harmonically 30 years ahead of his time; all pianists have to deal to a certain extent with Tatum's innovations in order to be taken seriously…
Alto saxophonist Pete Brown has been showing up on Keynote and Savoy reissues for years, but seldom if ever has there been an entire package devoted to recordings made under his name.