By the time Oliver Nelson and his big band had recorded Fantabulous in March of 1964 for Argo, the great composer, saxophonist, conductor, and arranger was a man about town in New York. He had released some truly classic dates of his own as a leader in smaller group forms – Blues and the Abstract Truth and Full Nelson among them – and had done arrangement work for everyone from Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and Johnny Hodges, Nancy Wilson, Frank Wess, King Curtis, Etta Jones, Jimmy Smith, Jack Teagarden, Betty Carter, Billy Taylor, and Gene Ammons, to name more than a few. For Fantabulous, he took his working big band to Chicago for a gig sponsored by Daddy-O-Daylie, a famous local disc jockey.
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.
Altoist Maceo Parker has spent most of his career in R&B funk bands, most notably those led by James Brown, George Clinton, and Bootsy Collins. This CD gave him a chance to stretch out as a leader, and his soulful horn immediately brings to mind Hank Crawford and (to a lesser extent) Lou Donaldson. With a strong backup group that includes Pee Wee Ellis on tenor, trombonist Fred Wesley, and Don Pullen on organ, Parker enthusiastically plays over infectious grooves with just one funky departure ("In Time"). Roots Revisited is a throwback to the 1960s soul-jazz style and Maceo Parker gives one the impression that, if called upon, he could hold his own on a bebop date.
As a leader, Charlie Parker recorded for Savoy and Dial during 1945-1948 and then for Verve exclusively (at least in the studios) during 1949-1954. This remarkable ten-CD box set, which adds quite a bit of material to an earlier ten-LP set, contains all of these recordings plus Bird's earlier appearances with Jazz at the Philharmonic. The JATP jams are highlighted by Parker's perfect solo on "Oh Lady Be Good," a ferocious improvisation on "The Closer," and a solo on "Embraceable You" that tops his more famous studio recording. In addition, this box has all of the "Bird and Strings" sides, his meetings with Machito's Cuban orchestra, the 1950 session with Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonious Monk, small-group dates (including a 1951 meeting with Miles Davis), odd encounters with voices and studio bands, the famous "Jam Blues" with fellow altoists Johnny Hodges and Benny Carter, and his final recordings, a set of Cole Porter tunes. The fact-filled 34-page booklet is also indispensable. Highly recommended.
Anyone daunted by the expense of acquiring the 10-disc Bird: The Complete Charlie Parker on Verve may well have their prayers answered by this 2-CD distillation of the big box. It covers a wide stretch of material from Parker's career, going back to the first JATP concert in 1946 and stretching almost to the end of his Norman Granz period. ~ AllMusic
The Original Recordings of Charlie Parker is a compilation of 12 tracks recorded by Charlie Parker during his years with the Verve label. The CD isn't in chronological order or even comprehensive enough to deem it a "best of." That is not to say that this album doesn't contain some phenomenal recordings; it does. Bird features some of Parker's best, including "Now's the Time," "Blues for Alice," and "K.C. Blues" (the latter is a collaboration with Miles Davis). In addition to the 11 studio tracks, it also has a 12-minute live version of "Lester Leaps In" which features the tune's composer, Lester Young. Since most Charlie Parker fans will have these songs on other discs, they can probably skip this one. However, this is a decent place to start for those looking for an introduction to Parker or bebop.