Sunday, August 07, 2011

Charlie Parker & Dizzy Gillespie - Bird & Diz (Verve, 1950)

Alto saxophonist Charlie Parker and trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie were inexorably linked in the bebop firmament of jazz, cutting a number of remarkable records together during a relatively short time span, releasing a musical revolution (or evolution) in the process. This album was recorded on June 6, 1950 with pianist Thelonious Monk, bassist Curly Russell and drummer Buddy Rich in attendance. What a gathering of talent, can you imagine? This CD reissue is the short version with the red filtered cover, a later CD reissue pads out the disc with false starts and breakdowns almost to the point of absurdity. This disc is short and sweet at LP length and all the better for it. The group in general and particularly the co-leaders are in spectacular form, whether taking bop at a “you’ve got to be kidding me” speed on “Leap Frog” where they cram so many ideas into so little time that you literally expect the music to burst at the seams with the energy being released, it's the musical equivalent of a supernova. Most tracks, including “Leap Frog” come in master and alternate formats, and is shows just how on the ball everybody was on that particular day that there is not drop in quality throughout. “My Melancholy Baby” and “Relaxin’ With Lee” slow the tempo just a hair and listening to the musicians articulate in this fashion is a joy to hear. It’s particularly fascinating to hear Thelonious Monk in this setting. Where his angular accompaniment could throw some musicians (particularly Miles Davis) a little off-kilter, he fits the bill perfectly here and his few short solos are masterpieces of self-editing and craft. This was a wonderful album to hear, and the music presented on it uniquely joyful. There must have been something special in the air that day to create music of such luminosity and beauty. Bird & Diz -

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