Musings on Bird, I: Recorded and Unrecorded Bird

Off the cuff notes and thoughts on Bird, Part I:In the process of trying to compile most of Charlie Parker's recorded output, I determined that there are about three full days of known recordings (over 70 hours), of which about one full day (24 hours) is made up of his solo improvisations. The cult status that Bird achieved and became mythologized into is reflected by the vast amount of bootleg recordings that surfaced after his death, which now vastly outstrips by volume the studio documents released during his lifetime.

Charlie Parker: Three Rare Blues Performances

Here are a few of the rarest documents of Charlie Parker playing his own blues compositions that I came across while assembling my own near-comprehensive library of recorded Bird:

Charlie Parker on "This Time The Dream's On Me" (1950–1953)

Of the tunes that Bird played live but never recorded in the studio, Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer's "This Time the Dream's On Me" is notable in that Bird had prepared a quintet arrangement and was documented playing it in both quartet and quintet formats over the years. Dean Benedetti recorded at least three (possibly four) live versions of Bird playing the tune at the Onyx in July 1948, where he sounds rather tentative compared to the live recordings from 1950 through 1953.

Charlie Parker on "Fine and Dandy" (1947–1953)

On the topic of concision in Bird's playing, Howard McGhee is quoted as saying:
Charlie Parker was something else. And he didn't play no nineteen choruses. He once told me, he said, "I can play all I know in eight bars."

Charlie Parker on "Confirmation" (1949–1951)

"Confirmation" is among Bird's most enduring compositions, but I hadn't realized until fairly recently how early in his career he'd written it. The first recording of it was done in early February '46, when Dizzy Gillespie recorded it on a date in LA that Bird was supposed to make, but didn't; the composer's definitive studio version, with Al Haig, Percy Heath, and Max Roach, wasn't recorded until late July '53 on what would be his third-to-last studio date as a leader.

In Charlie Parker: His Music and Life, Carl Woideck suggests that Dizzy's band at the time might have already had "Confirmation" in its repertoire, since that the personnel on the recording was the complete working group minus Bird (with Lucky Thompson as a back-up for the unreliable altoist, Milt Jackson, Al Haig, Ray Brown, and Stan Levey). The band definitely sounds well-prepared on the recording as though they'd had time to break it in, in comparison to man…

Goings-On 2019

(Note 3/5/2020: This is now an archive page for highlighted gigs from 2019, see below).

In an effort to post more to the blog in 2019, I'll be highlighting upcoming gigs here with greater detail than on the Upcoming page, which lists all my gigs (past, present, and future).

2019 gig tape playlist (YouTube)

Ornette Coleman's Liner Notes to Don Cherry's WHERE IS BROOKLYN?

The most rewarding state of today's music is its newness whatever its categories, the new thing as today's jazz composer and performers are called is just as the title, these inventors seek to express the jazz state of inventors, it is at its most high and has been for the last five years, Don Cherry has certainly had his position in this new music over a decade or more as it has been for the other players on this album, Blackwell, Pharoah, and Henry are some of the best inventors of this new music. For those who might not know the inside meaning of the term (the new thing) one of the easy ways of remembering its meaning is "a music in which one invents that outdates their own writing or playing, without using the rules of repetition." And this music has root in this form just as man has broken away from the earth gravity to seek other forms of matter so has the form of expression in all communicating thoughts, Don Cherry is a man of creative inventiveness and it wou…