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.
The genius of Bird and strings is hard to describe – an edgey aproach that really goes far past most other "jazz with strings" projects, not a ballad-driven one, but a tensely strained one that brings out some of Parker's best soloing, almost in a moody soundtrack-type way. The tracks are a lot freer and less bop-driven than some of Bird's normal work, and it's incredible to hear him soloing with such complexity — even more proof of the genius he clearly exhibited in relation to his contemporaries.
Live Bird lives! On February 22, 1953, the great Charlie Parker recorded a concert with Joe Timer’s Orchestra at Club Kavakos in Washington, D.C. Elektra Musician released the live show thirty years later. The eight tracks from that record are reissued here on The Washington Concerts. When it was originally released, Lundvall included an interview he conducted with Parker’s former trumpet player Red Rodney, which is also included here.
Charlie Parker was a legendary Grammy Award–winning jazz saxophonist who, with Dizzy Gillespie, invented the musical style called bop or bebop. Charlie Parker was born on August 29, 1920, in Kansas City, Kansas. From 1935 to 1939, he played the Missouri nightclub scene with local jazz and blues bands. In 1945 he led his own group while performing with Dizzy Gillespie on the side. Together they invented bebop. In 1949, Parker made his European debut, giving his last performance several years later. He died a week later on March 12, 1955, in New York City.
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.
Phil Woods is right at home during these 2002 sessions at Red Rock Recording Studio near his home in Delaware Water Gap, Pennsylvania. With his regular group (Bill Charlap, Steve Gilmore, and Bill Goodwin) minus trumpeter Brian Lynch, Woods adds strings conducted by his old friend Eric Doney on this collection of ballads. "And When We're Young" is the alto saxophonist's tribute to the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy, who was assassinated around the time it was written. The leader's lush alto gives way to a brisk Latin-flavored passage featuring powerful solos by violinist Andy Stein and Charlap on piano, while Woods humorously detours into "Nature Boy" upon his return. The strings introduce a lively arrangement of "It Never Entered My Mind," and another favorite of the alto saxophonist, "If I Should Lose You." Unlike many jazz recordings with strings, they complement rather than overwhelm the musicians. But it is almost impossible for a Phil Woods-led date to turn out less than excellent.