"I was working over "Cherokee", and [...] found that by using the higher intervals of a chord as a melody line and backing them with appropriately related changes, I could play the thing I’d been hearing. I came alive."
Bebop, we know, did not just happen. Its undercurrents had long been coursing through the jazz mainstream, its founding fathers far more numerous than generally imagined. Among these we might cite Teddy Wilson, the John Kirby Sextet (on certain pieces), Buster Smith, or even Lionel Hampton with a rendering of "When Lights Are Low" recorded at a session pervaded by indenable signs of things to come (cf. Lionel Hampton, The Quintessence, FA 211). There is simply not the room here to be exhaustive, however, and we have opted to preface our Birth of Bop selection by spotlighting just three indisputable progenitors of the art.
First, the solitary, soulful Lester Young. When during the summer of 1957 a troubled Charlie Parker retreated to the relative peace of the Ozarks, he took with him four sides by a group called Jones-Smith Inc.. One of these was "Shoe Shine Boy", and he would subsequently reproduce Lester’s second bridge-passage note for note on "I've Found A New Baby", a private recording made in Kansas City. Furthermore, this same "Shoe Shine Boy" would provide the basis of Bird’s "Yardin' The Yard", a performance preserved on an acetate.
Parker, exasperated by constant comparisons, occasionally denied his debt to Lester. Something Dizzy Gillespie would never do vis-à-vis Roy Eldridge, who was offering an approach to the trumpet different from that of Louis Armstrong. On "Swing Is Here", Eldridge exploits the whole range of the instrument, exploring the upper register in unprecedented fashion. Dizzy would soon be following suit, his kinship to Roy quite evident on his solo contribution to "Blue Rhythm Fantasy", his first recording with a Teddy Hill orchestra that also includes Eldridge himself.
A third crucial progenitor of bop was Art Tatum, whose "Mighty Lak' A Rose", despite deplorable sound quality, perfectly illustrates the point. An improvisation on an unusual theme, this performance reveals a Tatum who taunts and teases the harmonies, carrying his explorations way beyond the normal course of duty. This is the sort of music Tatum was playing at the Chicken Sack when Parker was working there as a dish-washer, and it comes as a fascinating portent of some of the things Thelonious Monk would later be doing.
Charlie Parker’s engagement in the newest of Kansas City’s big bands, the outfit fronted by Jay McShann, set him on the road to fame. Although still somewhat green, Bird emerges as a soloist to be reckoned with on "Honeysuckle Rose", one of those radio transcriptions that would inspire Gunther Schuller to write : "Nothing quite like it had ever been heard before on the saxophone, and fot that matter, in jazz." Recorded with the full band some 18 months later, Parker's chorus on "Sepian Bounce" would have a huge impact of a whole generation of young musicians, Benny Harris even going to the trouble of transposing it for the trumpet...
Alain Tercinet (Adapted by Don Waterhouse from the french text), booklet
Birth of Be Bop
1 Shoe Shine Boy (Cahn, Chaplin) 3:02
2 Swing Is Here (Krupa, Eldridge, Berry) 2:56
3 Mighty Lak a Rose (Nevin) 3:40
4 Blue Rhythm Fantasy (Willett, Hill) 2:42
5 Honeysuckle Rose (Waller, Razaf) 3:00
6 Pickin' the Cabbage (Gillespie) 2:48
7 I Got Rhythm (Guy's Got to Go) (Gershwin, Gershwin) 2:28
8 Nice Work If You Can Get It (Gershwin, Gershwin) 4:03
9 Honeysuckle Rose (Waller, Razaf) 6:15
10 Stardust (Carmichael) 3:28
11 Cherokee (Noble) 2:49
12 Sepian Bounce (Hall, McShann) 3:14
13 McGhee Special (McGhee) 2:53
14 Little John Special (Millinder) 3:07
15 Floogie Boo (Williams, Vinson) 2:40
16 Woody'n You (Gillespie) 3:00
17 'Round Midnight (Monk, Williams) 3:16
18 Red Cross (Parker) 3:09
1 Blowing the Blues Away (Eckstine) 3:09
2 Little Benny (Harris) 2:41
3 Drifting on a Reed (Thomas) 3:06
4 Interlude (Gillespie, Paparelli, Keener) 2:32
5 Sorta Kinda (Young) 2:46
6 Be-Bop (Gillespie) 3:09
7 Something for You (Pettiford) 2:31
8 At the el Grotto (Hines, Scott) 2:58
9 A Night in Tunisia (Gillespie, Paparelli) 3:12
10 Apple Honey (Herman) 3:19
11 Opus X (Malachi) 2:35
12 Salt Peanuts (Gillespie) 3:16
13 Hot House (Dameron) 3:09
14 Mad Hype (McGhee) 3:00
15 September in the Rain (Dubin, Warren) 2:51
16 Dexter Minor Mad (Gordon) 2:45
17 Now's the Time (Parker) 3:18
18 Koko (Parker) 2:56
Featuring Carl Smith, Art Tatum, Lester Young, Benny Goodman, Jess Stacy, Allan Reus, Chocolate Williams, Teddy Hill, Jay McShann, Joe Guy, Cozy Cole, Cab Calloway, Tyree Glenn, Charlie Christian, Aaron Sachs, Bud Powell, Georgie Auld, Kenny Clarke, Howard McGhee, Hot Lips Page, Bill Dogett, Leonard Feather, Sarah Vaughan, Specs Powell, Don Byas, Serge Chaloff, Dizzy Gillespie, Gene Ramey, Charlie Parker, Dexter Gordon, John Malachi, Benny Harris, Budd Johnson, Clyde Hart, Chuck Wayne, Coleman Hawkins, Shelly Manne, Wardel Gray, Hal McKusick, Al Cohn, Oscar Pettiford, Woody Herman, Fats Navarro, Billy Eckstine, Leo Parker, Flip Philips, Max Roach, Al Haig, Pete Candoli...
Recorded between February 29, 1936 & November 26, 1945
See the complete artwork