Charlie Parker on "Cheryl"

On the fifth chorus of his solo on "Cheryl," Bird quotes a large portion of Louis Armstrong's famous cadenza from "West End Blues" (1928). The announcer (whom I believe to be Symphony Sid) immediately notes:
"If you were listening closely there, maybe you noticed Charlie Parker's quotation from a famous Louis Armstrong introduction to 'West End Blues,' showing that sometimes the new school does borrow from the old."
Bird's known for quoting plenty of material from his diverse listenings, including the piccolo obbligato from 'High Society,' but it's rare to hear him quote another contemporaneous musician at length like this. 

This particular recording is from a CD of a friend of mine's, called Early "Bird." Unfortunately, I don't have any other information about when this was recorded, although based on some quick online research, it's likely that this live recording is from a Sunday afternoon broadcast in December 1952, at the Hi Hat in Boston. I'm not sure, though, but the length of this recording (5:22) most closely matches the versions of "Cheryl" I've seen in a few Charlie Parker discographies. When I transcribed this solo, though, I noticed that the recording was in B, not in C—in other words, a half-step down from where Bird likely played it (unless he really did play this version of "Cheryl" down half a step). The recording itself sounds fine, though, and the radio announcer's voice is clear and doesn't seem distorted by speeding-up or down. Yesterday would have been Bird's 92nd birthday, so here's to Bird, still in flight:

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UPDATE: Thanks to Michael Griffin, who alerted me to the fact that this recording is from Carnegie Hall: X-mas '49. The cover art is also pretty wild, which you can check out in another blog post about Charlie Parker and Sonny Rollins's two tenor (!) solos on "Compulsion," from Miles Davis's Collectors' Item.


  1. This was recorded at carnegie hall in 1949.As part of a christmas concert featuring Bud Powell's group, Miles Davis, and Charlie Parker's quintet featuring Red Rodney on Trumpet.

  2. Thanks for the tip! I found a recording of the 1949 concert and the track is about 20 seconds shorter than the version I have, which explains why my version was in B, rather than C. Strangely, the announcer's commentary is missing from this version (the one with the correct pitch and tempo).

    1. Couldn't help notice you're based in New York. I'm coming to new york in september.I'm based in Sydney, Australia and no i don't have a pet kangaroo haha. I'm an Alto player, the name is Michael Griffin. Are you studying there or something?

    2. By the way i'm the one that gave you the info on that 1949 Charlie Parker concert above.

    3. Hi Michael,

      I actually forgot to change my location status in my profile at the end of last summer. I was in New York over the summer to play, practice, and hang out, but during the school year I'm actually in college up in Boston. Do you happen to know Brianna Cowlishaw? I met her at Banff last summer and I know that she's based in Sydney. Exciting news that you're going to New York in September—are you moving there, or just hanging for a bit?


    4. Ah ok so you're a Celtics fan then haha. I know Bri well, she used to sing in my band quite a lot. I'm just coming over for a month to check it out, it's my first time in New York. I'm really looking forward to it. What's it like studying in Boston?, you must kept some pretty cool masterclasses over there

    5. That sounds great. Feel free to email me at — we could chat further over email if you'd like.


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