Charlie Parker All Stars – Live At Birdland – December 23, 1950 – WJZ Radio – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
Charlie Parker – legend, immortal, prime suspect, icon – all those superlatives to describe probably one of the most influential alto sax players in Jazz history; and he would be 100 this year (August 29, 1920). Here is one of his many live recordings (bootlegged, issued, reissued, restored, digitized, examined and dissected) – this one live from Birdland, featuring Red Rodney on trumpet, Kenny Drew on piano, Curly Russell on bass and Art Blakey on drums. Broadcast live over WJZ Radio on December 23, 1950. Collectors no doubt have just about every format and every reissue and restoration available over the years – so this one comes as no surprise – you know every nuance on this broadcast. But if you are just getting interested in Jazz – just getting turned on to it and just getting your bearings as to who to listen to and what to check out – here’s one place to land and to listen. Remember, this was 70 years ago (sixty nine years and change if you’re reading this post in last August). And maybe the technology for actually listening to this broadcast is a bit rusty, bordering on crude – the sentiment, the artistry and the influence are not. This is vital stuff and it points in a historic direction where and how things were evolving in Jazz at the time. This was NOT the mainstream – this was not universally embraced – this was lambasted by the established press as weird and insane music. Freedom and complexity of execution didn’t enter into the conversation at this point – it was subject for ridicule and hand-wringing. But it was unstoppable and it signaled a big direction change for music in the long run. Not that the world woke up one day and accepted Be-Bop as the be-all/end-all – there was still the established genres that weren’t affected and would continue. But Charlie Parker was at the forefront of what was a new and wildly engaging new genre that would influence new artists, inspire new directions and promote new conversations – what Music does and what Music will always be about.
And for a reminder . . .