Two legends together this weekend; Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, together with Milt Jackson on vibes, Al Haig on piano, Ray Brown on bass and Stan Levey on drums. All appearing on the groundbreaking radio program Jubilee on December 29, 1945, and MC’d by Ernie “Bubbles” Whitman.
Couple things – Jubilee was the first-ever all African-American variety show on radio. It premiered in the late 1930s on CBS Radio, later switching to NBC Radio and becoming a staple in the musical diet of troops overseas via Armed Forces Radio during World War 2. It was ground-breaking in that, although it maintained the segregated atmosphere in entertainment at the time – this was back when even Musician Union session sheets were prefaced “Colored Session” to maintain some semblance of segregation, even in the recording studio (though it was mostly ignored by the independent labels), it became an opportunity to hear acts via mainstream (White) radio which would normally not be heard.
In this case, it’s the appearance of Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker – two of the most revolutionary forces in mid-century Modern Jazz.
It’s almost impossible to adequately convey the effect this new turn in musical events had on the public. Music in 1945 was in a different world than it is in 2017 – listening to this radio session now, the music doesn’t seem so unusual or strange. But considering the atmosphere at the time (some 72 years ago) – this was what led Louis Armstrong to refer to this new genre as “Chinese Music“.
Maybe, if you go back in your own life and try to remember the first time you heard something that turned your head around – and how you felt about hearing it for the very first time, you’ll get an idea of how the Music World reacted to this thing called Bop, and a whole different aspect of music we’ve come to take for granted now (even find quaint in some ways).
In any case, this was a rare appearance and how this recording managed to survive in pristine condition, sounding better than the commercial 78s at the time, is a miracle.
But have a listen and try to pretend you’ve never heard this type of music before. Then you’ll get an idea what America was experiencing in 1945.
Dig, you must.