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.
Charlie Parker's historic Dial sessions have been reissued in a variety of ways over the years. This is especially true since the advent of the compact disc. These sessions not only capture Parker's alto brillance but highlight his interaction with such jazz stalwarts as Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Duke Jordan, Max Roach, Erroll Garner, Howard McGhee and Dodo Marmarosa. This four-disc set is broken up into Hollywood Sessions 1: Moose the Mooche, Hollywood Sessions 2: Relaxin' at Camarillo, New York Sessions 1: Scrapple from the Apple, and New York Sessions 2: Drifting on a Reed. It's fortunate that these slices of jazz history are available allowing the listener to hear several takes of classics like "Moose the Mooch," "Relaxin at Camarillo," "Scrapple from the Apple," and "Ornithology" take shape. Sound quality on these Stash discs is good for the most part, fair but not great on others.
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.