Thursday, June 08, 2006

More live Birds

We have Jimmy Knepper to thank for two of the better live Charlie Parker recordings "Bird on 52nd Street" and "Bird at St. Nick's," both Original Jazz Classics from study tapes made by the trombonist in 1948 and 1950.

The "West End Blues" quote in "Visa" on "St. Nick's" is almost worth the price of the disk alone and then Parker goes and quotes the theme from "Woody Woodpecker" in "I Cover the Waterfront" and "Pop Goes the Weasel" in "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes." I love it. The sound is a bit muddy, but not too bad, and you can hear the background buzz of the crowd. (What were people doing talking anyway?) Some songs cut off abruptly.

I think "52nd Street" is worthwhile as well, but the quality of the recording is lower. It also has an underlying hiss that contributes to making it less pleasurable than "St. Nick's." In both cases, the tape tended to run only when Parker was playing. Still, you do get to hear snatches from Miles Davis, Red Rodney, Max Roach and Roy Haynes, among others. While I prefer "Charlie Parker: The Complete Live Performances on Savoy," much cleaner recordings mostly from radio shows, these CDs deserve more play time from me, "Bird at St. Nicks" especially.

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