Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Charlie Parker - The Savoy 10-Inch LP Collection (Craft Recordings, 2020)

Charlie Parker is one of the Mount Rushmore figures of jazz, revolutionizing the way the alto saxophone was played and reconceptualizing the very nature of the music through the evolution of bebop. These groundbreaking sessions were among his first as a leader, recorded between 1944 and 1948, with various musicians in accompaniment including future jazz heroes like Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, John Lewis, Bud Powell and Max Roach. There are many Parker anthologies available, but this one is notable for the quality of the sound, with newly restored and remastered audio achieved using digital and analogue sources which sounds remarkably clear considering the source material without overwhelming the music. Also the music flows very well from one track to another not getting bogged down by presenting multiple versions of the same track in a row as several anthologies do. Several of Parker's most well known themes are presented in this collection, including "Donna Lee" with it's bright and complex melody for alto saxophone and trumpet giving way to a wonderful Parker solo that swings gracefully with added bursts of energy added when needed. "Chasin the Bird" shows trumpet and saxophone intertwined swirling through the air before there are short bursts of fast saxophone notes amid supple rhythm. One of Parker's most searing performances is "Warming Up a Riff" with just him and the rhythm section going all out. The saxophone is out of sight, playing with grace and wisdom and unmatched fluidity, the music fades as they reach the limit of the 78 rpm disc, but it sounds like it could go on forever. "Thriving From a Riff" mines the same idea with but with trumpet leading off, when the saxophonist joins in he is in rare form dashing forward with flurries of notes that shine like beacons. He comes out playing at an absolutely blistering pace on "Klauntsance" playing with seemingly impossible speed and control, and 19 year old Miles Davis takes a gutsy solo of his own. "Constellation" is another beautiful high flyer, with the bevy of notes coming fast and furious, leaving the listener gobsmacked.  "Ah-Lu-Cha" is slightly more medium tempo with some very nice interplay for saxophone and trumpet in the theme, and Parker taking a dynamic solo that balances the melody with quick bursts of speedy saxophone runs. Overall, this set works very well, the attention to detail in the presentation is worthy of a master, and the music itself is simply the Rosetta Stone for the next fifty years of jazz history. The Savoy 10-inch LP Collection - amazon.com

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