Monday, May 06, 2013

Impact Recording: Charlie Parker "That's Jazz"

Part Three of the ongoing series of records that made an impact on me as a young musician. Read the others - Part One - Part two.

Charlie Parker "That's Jazz"

Not long after I started playing saxophone I hit the library to find some books about jazz. One name kept on popping up - Charlie Parker. I headed over to Tower Music and purchased the only Charlie Parker CD they had - "That's Jazz" (I believe this was my first CD purchase too).  Once home I listened to the entire disc - I felt exhausted! This was something else.... until then the jazz saxophonists I had heard were from the previous generation... Johnny Hodges, Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster among others and clarinetists like Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman.  Aside from Charlie Parker's name and the track listing there was no other information provided. Who were these people and what were they doing? I had no idea. Confused.... yes! Intrigued.... yes!
I remember trying to learn some of the melodies and not having much luck..... possibly "Yardbird Suite."

Despite being rather lo-fi, two tracks stood out - "Rocker" and "The Street Beat" - both live recordings. I'm not exactly sure what it was about them. The live atmosphere - chatter, calls of encouragement, whistling etc added something. Perhaps it was Bird's soaring sound. The push and pull of this phrasing and articulation.  Who knows?
I have gone on to check out much more of Bird's work and these tracks remain favorites to this day (along with a few others!).

I would later find out that these two tracks were issued on "Complete Live at Rockland Palace" and "One Night at Birdland".... fantastic discs - check them out!

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