Thursday, July 21, 2016

Unheard Bird

The legendary alto-saxophone player Charles Christopher “Charlie” Parker Jr., nicknamed Yardbird, then Bird, was born in 1920, raised in Kansas City, Mo., and first made his way to New York in 1939. In the mid-1940s, he revolutionized jazz music as one of the principal creators of the harmonically, rhythmically and melodically advanced style named bebop, or bop, and as bop’s greatest virtuoso instrumentalist. Parker, a habitual user of narcotics and alcohol, died in 1955, at age 34. The graffiti “Bird Lives” bloomed on New York walls in the wake of his passing.
Bird lives on most vividly through his recorded legacy, as well as through his ubiquitous influence on scores of musical contemporaries and descendants. Now, 61 years after his death, comes a notable addition to the saxophonist’s catalog of sound recordings. Earlier this month, Verve Music, whose founder Norman Granz recorded Parker often throughout the 1940s and ’50s, released Unheard Bird : The Unissued Takes, a two-CD package coproduced and annotated by Grammy Award-winning Bird scholar Phil Schaap, containing 58 previously unreleased Parker tracks.
The material is drawn from the years 1949 to 1952 and features Parker in a variety of settings: as a showcased player with a Latin-jazz orchestra ; leading an all-star quartet, quintet and septet; soloing over a strings ensemble ; and fronting a big band. Among his supporting players are Dizzy Gillespie, Machito, Kenny Dorham, Hank Jones, Thelonious Monk, Max Roach and Buddy Rich.
Though many of these takes are false starts, there are several complete and excellent alternative versions of previously released numbers (which are also included). Studio chatter is overheard : an engineer shouting at visitors to keep quiet (“Hold it! Hold it! Hold it !”) ; Parker more politely saying, “Y’all got to stop talkin’, man.” Bird stops the musical proceedings with a sharp whistle when he’s unhappy with how things are going. It is fascinating to hear Parker work out his approach to tunes and arrangements over the course of several takes — “Forgive me,” he says after muffing an entrance on one of his own lines, “I misunderstood it myself. OK, do it again” — before coming through with one or more masterly performances.
Parker demonstrates amazing facility in all stylistic contexts, from Afro-Cuban street dances and Cole Porter ballads to the slide-rule riffs of the bop he co-invented. As a youthful veteran of the Kansas City scene, he was also steeped in the blues ; and it is striking to hear how often he worked blues phrasings into numbers that were not blues per se. But the real treat here for aficionados of Bird’s blues playing are seven unreleased takes of “Blues Fast,” a sizzling vehicle in which Parker and a rhythm trio wail through chorus after unabashed 12-bar chorus.
The final 10 tracks of Unheard Bird are from a March 25, 1952, session, with Parker performing midtempo standards (“Night and Day,” “Almost Like Being in Love,” “What Is This Thing Called Love”) in front of a big band with a rhythm section of pianist Oscar Peterson, bassist Ray Brown, drummer Don Lamond and longtime Count Basie guitarist Freddie Green.
On bassoon in that orchestra is Danny Bank, a multireed player best known for his baritone-sax and clarinet work. “Bird — what can I tell you about him ? He was a genius,” Bank, who died in 2010, told me in 2006. “And we were very friendly... We used to live in the same hotel... on 54th Street [in New York], the musicians’ hangout... the Alvin Hotel. He had a room on the same floor that I had.
“One night I was practicing something by Hindemith — the woodwind quintet : boomp, baba-bada-bada-boomp... You know that ? It’s a very famous clarinet passage. Then later that night, at about 2 in the morning, I figured I’d go down to Birdland, on Broadway there, where Bird was playing ; you know, once you play in Birdland, you get a free [admission] for life. So as I walked in, Bird stopped — and started to play just what I played in the hotel room : duck ! daga-diga-diga-duck, diga-da, da. Perfect !
“He had a perfect ear, you know ; he could play anything, in any key. I tell my students : There’ll never be another somebody like him, for a hundred years. Nobody can get even close.”
Tom Nolan

Source :

Charlie Parker
Unheard Bird
(The Unissued Takes)


Cd. 1

1 Okiedoke [incomplete] (Hernandez, Machito)  1:36
2 Okiedoke [alt. take] (Hernandez, Machito)  3:17
3 Okiedoke [incomplete] (Hernandez, Machito)  1:52
4 Okiedoke [alt. take] (Hernandez, Machito)  3:14
5 Okiedoke [released master] (Hernandez, Machito)  3:05
6 Visa [incomplete] (Parker)  0:43
7 Visa [alt. take] (Parker)  3:02
8 Visa [false start] (Parker)  0:15
9 Visa [released master] (Parker)  3:00
10 Tune X [incomplete & false starts] (Parker)  1:46
11 Tune X [alt. take] (Parker)  3:20
12 Tune X [incomplete] (Parker)  1:17
13 Tune X, a.k.a. ‘Diverse’ [released master] (Parker)  3:18
14 Tune X, a.k.a. ‘Segment’ [released master] (Parker)  3:22
15 Tune Y [false starts] (Parker)  0:30
16 Tune Y, a.k.a. ‘Passport’ [released ‘rare’ master] (Parker)  2:56
17 Tune Z [false start] (Parker)  0:06
18 Tune Z [alt. take] (Parker)  2:56
19 Tune Z [false starts] (Parker)  0:39
20 Tune Z [alt. take] (Parker)  2:52
21 Tune Z [false starts] (Parker)  1:08
22 Tune Z [alt. take] (Parker)  3:08
23 Tune Z, also a.k.a. ‘Passport’ [released ‘common’ master] (Parker)  3:02
24 If I Should Lose You [false starts] (Rainger, Robin)  0:28
25 If I Should Lose You [released master] (Rainger, Robin)  2:49
26 Star Eyes [incomplete & false start] (Raye, DePaul)  1:10
27 Star Eyes [incomplete] (Raye, DePaul)  2:04
28 Star Eyes [released master] (Raye, DePaul)  3:30
29 Blues (Fast) [false starts] (Parker)  1:06
30 Blues (Fast) [alt. take] (Parker)  2:50
31 Blues (Fast) [false start] (Parker)  0:20
32 Blues (Fast) [alt. take] (Parker)  2:43
33 Blues (Fast) [incomplete] (Parker)  0:41
34 Blues (Fast) [alt. take] (Parker)  2:49
35 Blues (Fast) [abandoned take, studio chatter] (Parker)  0:13
36 Blues (Fast) [released master] (Parker)  2:47
37 Bloomdido [false start] (Parker)  1:11
38 Bloomdido [released master] (Parker)  3:24


Cd. 2

An Oscar for Treadwell [incomplete] (Parker)  1:53
An Oscar for Treadwell [incomplete] (Parker)  0:57
An Oscar For Treadwell [released alt. take.] (Parker)  3:23
An Oscar For Treadwell [released master] (Parker)  3:24
Mohawk [incomplete & false start] (Parker)  1:08
Mohawk [released alt. take.] (Parker)  3:51
Mohawk [false start] (Parker)  1:53
Mohawk [released master] (Parker)  3:39
My Little Suede Shoes [alt. take & false start] (Parker)  3:02
My Little Suede Shoes [alt. take] (Parker)  3:18
My Little Suede Shoes [alt. take] (Parker)  3:08
My Little Suede Shoes [released master] (Parker)  3:06
Tico Tico [alt. take & false start] (Oliveira, Abreu)  3:09
Tico Tico [false starts] (Oliveira, Abreu)  1:23
Tico Tico [alt. take] (Oliveira, Abreu)  2:47
Tico Tico [false starts] (Oliveira, Abreu)  0:52
Tico Tico [released master] (Oliveira, Abreu)  2:46
Fiesta [alt. take & false start] (Massey)  3:21
Fiesta [released master] (Massey)  2:51
Mama Inez [alt. take] (Gilbert, Grenet)  3:01
Mama Inez [released master] (Gilbert, Grenet)  2:53
Night And Day [alt. take] (Porter)  2:55
Night And Day [alt. take] (Porter)  3:01
Night And Day [released master] (Porter)  2:53
Almost Like Being In Love [alt. take] (Porter)  2:31
Almost Like Being In Love [false start & incomplete] (Porter)  1:21
Almost Like Being In Love [released master] (Porter)  2:37
What Is This Thing Called Love [incomplete] (Porter)  1:17
What Is This Thing Called Love [alt. take] (Porter)  2:16
What Is This Thing Called Love [incomplete] (Porter)  1:20
What Is This Thing Called Love [released master] (Porter)  2:36


[Cd. 1, # 1-5] Charlie Parker, Soloist/Machito & His Orchestra
Charlie Parker - as
Mario Bauza, Paquito Davilla, Bobby Woodlen - tp
Gene Johnson, Freddie Skerritt - as
Jose Madera - ts
Leslie Johnakins - bs
René Hernandez - p
Roberto Rodriguez - b
Jose Mangual - bng
Luis Miranda - cng
Umbado Nieto - tmbl
Machito - mrcs
Recorded in New York City ; January 1949
[Cd. 1, # 6-23] Charlie Parker & His Orchestra (Septet & Quintet)
* [Septet]
Charlie Parker - as
Kenny Dorham - tp
Tommy Turk - tb
Al Haig - p
Tommy Potter - b
Max Roach - dr
Carlos Vidal - cng
* [Quintet]
Same as above, except
Turk & Vidal are out
Recorded in New York City ; May 4, or 5-into-6, 1949 [tracks 6-9 previously throught to be circa March 1949]
[Cd. 1, # 24-25] Charlie Parker with Strings
Charlie Parker - as
Stan Freeman - p
Ray Brown - b
Buddy Rich - dr
Mitch Miller - ob & possibly fr hrn
Bronislaw Gimpel, Max Hollander, Milt Lomask - vl
Frank Brieff - vla
Frank Miller - cel
Myor Rosen - hrp
Jimmy Carroll - arr. & cond.
Recorded at Mercury Studios ; November 30, 1949
[Cd. 1, # 26-36] Charlie Parker Quartet
Charlie Parker - as
Hank Jones - p
Ray Brown - b
Buddy Rich - dr
Recorded in New York City ; late Winter-early Spring, 1950
[Cd. 1, # 37-38] Charlie Parker & His Orchestra
Charlie Parker - as
Dizzy Gillespie - tp
Thelonious Monk - p
Curly Russell - b
Buddy Rich - dr
Recorded in New York ; June 6, 1950
[Cd. 2, # 1-8] Charlie Parker & His Orchestra
Same date & personnel as above
[Cd. 2, # 9-21] Charlie Parker Plays South of the Border
Charlie Parker - as
Benny Harris - tp [# 20 & 21]
Walter Bishop, Jr. - p
Teddy Kotick - b
Max Roach [# 20 & 21] or Roy Haynes - dr
Jose Mangual - bng
Luis Miranda - cng
Recorded in New York ; March 21, 1951 [# 9-19] ; & January 23 or 28, 1952 [# 20 & 21]
[Cd. 2, # 22-31] Charlie Parker & His Orchestra [Big Band]
Charlie Parker - as
Al Porcino, Jimmy Maxwell, Carl Poole, Bernie Privin - tp
Bill Harris, Lou McGarity, Bart Varsalona - tb
Murray Williams, Harry Terrill - as
Flip Phillips, Hank Ross - ts
Danny Bank - bs
Oscar Peterson - p
Freddie Green - g
Ray Brown - b
Don Lamond - dr
Joe Lipman - arr. & cond.
Recorded March 25, 1952


Melanchthon said...


Cd. 1

Cd. 2

Dante A. said...

Thanks a lot for this new cd - with the " Charlie Parker with Strings"
deluxe edition and the 10 cd box, complete the Charlie Parker Recordings on Verve

deGallo said...

Thank you.

Mike said...

Amazing! Definitely worth a listen or two... thanks, as always.

lucky5 said...

Thank you so much!!

AmyBRAINS said...


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this Charlie Parker set!

Pedro del Castillo Alonso said...

Awesome post!! Thank you very much Mel.

Blue Eyes said...

Birdlipopette! ;) thank you so much Holy Mel for this new unreleased Bird tracks, fantastic post!

Otis Foster said...

Hard to believe there is new Bird turning up. Thanks melanchthon, as always.

Peter said...

Dear Melanchthon,

great! Thank you.

blbs said...

Thanks and cheers for your good luck.
My copy brings a bad surprise in the booklet. Now I have to make a claim...

Anonymous said...

Bird Lives!

Brush&Stick said...

Huge thanks for this generous share! One never knows what lies in the vaults!

bluebird said...

Thanks Mel - just grabbed the scans. Got the music from blbs.

Jazzsoulman said...

Thank You

Alvinho said...

Thanks, Mel. Great choice.

Historicus said...

Great, many thanks!!!

Fred Archtop said...

Awesome post. Thanks Mel !

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for this one (and all the others!)
The quality of your work (new release in flac with scnas!) reflects to me a true passion for spreading culture. It looks to me like some kind of mission.
Your blog is an incredible resource for people outside the US trying to approach Jazz, in countries where it is not so prevalent (in live events, radio, TV, etc.) I must have listened to Bird for the first time when I was 18!
Big thanks again!

Olde Edo said...

More Bird! Thank you so much.

Anonymous said...

Cheers MM! Magnificent!