During his tragically short career, it was evident to most observers that Charlie Parker was one of a kind. Though there were some who recoiled from the emotional message of his brilliant playing, there was a small but significant group of listeners even in the 1940s who realised that his work was something extraordinary and significant. Already at his death in 1955, it became clear that, for all his personal failings, he had made an enormous contribution to the field of jazz. Now, 50 years after the event, he can be seen as one of the very few key figures in its evolution â?? and indirectly a huge influence on the wider world of American popular music. Given that the Proper series already contains a four-CD set of Parkerâ??s important studio recordings made between 1944 and 1951 (Boss Bird, PROPERBOX 46), it seems appropriate to celebrate his anniversary with a compilation of the live recordings. Of course, their superiority doesnâ??t extend to overall sound quality, but the atmosphere and invention of some of these in-person appearances is beyond price. There is a huge amount to choose from, since a combination of factors made Charlie one of the most widely recorded jazzmen ever. Itâ??s partly a simple reflection of his importance that so many fans and fellow musicians made sure they obtained copies of his live performance, and partly the timing that enabled the widespread use of wire-recorders and tape-recorders â?? thanks to technology developed largely during World War II. Bassist Gene Ramey gave the most graphic description of how Charlieâ??s live playing was superior to his studio work. â??Heâ??d hear dogs barking, for instance, and he would say it was a conversation â?? and if he was blowing his horn he would have something to play that would portray that thought to usâ?¦And maybe some girl would walk past the dance floor while he was playing, and something she might have would give him an idea for something to play on his solo.â?? Ramey also noted on the first Sunday matinee at the Savoy what was supposed to be a 15-minute broadcast, which proved so compelling the radio station allowed it to overrun. â??Bird started blowing on Cherokee at that extremely fast tempoâ?¦We played about 45 minutes more, just the rhythm-section and Bird, with the horns setting riffs from time to time. That night you couldnâ??t get near the bandstand for musicians who heard the broadcast. â??Who was that saxophone player?â? They all wanted to know.â?? We present these recordings chronologically, spanning a career of live performances taking in everything from Parkerâ??s early work as featured soloist with the likes of Jay McShannâ??s orchestra to his famed small groups co-helmed with Dizzy Gillespie right up to a number of recordings featuring Parker backed by a live string section. Parkerâ??s contribution was so great that it quickly became an integral part of the common language, but people such as Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane were in no doubt as to his huge significance, any more than his contemporaries Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonious Monk were. It has rightly been said that no one, apart from his great predecessor Louis Armstrong, changed the music played on all instruments, to the same extent as Charlie Parker. These 4cds present Bird in full-flight, live and winging it as only he could!
Disc 11. Cherokee 2:46
Disc 21. 52nd Street Theme 5:06
Disc 31. Wahoo 6:35
Disc 41. Ornithology 4:34