GROOVIN' HIGH - 1940-1945

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A lot of people didn't understand his music and when they started to do so, they still wondered how he did it. Charlie Parker remained a mystery.
Clint Eastwood

A genuine “complete” set of the recordings left by Charlie Parker is impossible today and will remain so for a long time to come. Few musicians aroused so much passion during their own lifetimes and today, more than half a century after his disappearance, previously-unreleased music is published, and other titles – duly listed – will also come to light. A good many contain only solos by Bird, as they were recorded – privately – by musicians wanting to dissect his style. Regarding their sound-quality, most of them are at the limit: barely audible, sometimes almost intolerable, but in fact understandable: those who captured these sounds used portable recorders that wrote direct-to-disc, or wire-recorders, “tapes” (acetate or paper) and other machines now obsolete. Obviously they all produced sound-carriers that were fragile.  Of course, no solo ever played by Charlie Parker is to be disregarded. But a chronological compilation of almost everything he recorded – either inside a studio or on radio for broadcast purposes – does make it possible to provide an exhaustive panorama of the evolution of his style (Parker was, after all, one of the greatest geniuses in jazz), and to do so under acceptable listening-conditions. However, since we refer to style, the occasional presence here of some private recordings is indispensable, whatever the quality of the sound. 


When Charlie Parker made his first record using trumpeter Clarence Davis’ portable deck (May 1940), he was anything but a beginner. Despite the occasional gaffe or inconsistency, these a cappella variations on Honeysuckle Rose and Body and Soul are as much an inventory as a new departure. And in their cursory references to choruses played by Coleman Hawkins and Roy Eldridge, they also show the saxophonist’s awareness of the work of his elders.  Born in Kansas City on August 29th 1920, Parker had been playing the alto for seven years, after taking a first brief interest in the instrument when he was eleven years old. At the time, his mother Addie?she provided the family’s only source of income?had made him a present of a second-hand instrument, but he’d abandoned it after suffering a rebuff at the High Hat: he only knew the first eight bars of Up a Lazy River and Honeysuckle Rose in F, and he’d jumped into… Body and Soul, played by the musicians of Jimmy Keith’s orchestra.  Two years later, this time with a better instrument, he was trying to learn the rudiments of the musician’s trade in a Kansas City where Prohibition was unknown: there, Jim and Tom Pendergast had installed a system of government based on corruption that saw many places opening doors to those in search of pleasure, liquor and the sounds of jazz, not necessarily in that order. Musicians who were used to having a hard time elsewhere suddenly turned up in droves. Charlie Parker, who’d been spending whole nights listening to the likes of Joe Turner, Pete Johnson, Hot Lips Page, Andy Kirk, Count Basie and Lester Young, his favourite, had a good mind to take part in these festive proceedings. According to Gene Ramey, “In 1933-34, when we were jamming and Charlie showed up, we just stopped playing, he was so bad. On top of that he was already really difficult and he made trouble for everybody.”  

The tale of the young Parker’s apprenticeship could well serve to illustrate the saying, “genius is lengthy patience”, and writer Alain Gerber tells it strikingly in his superb novel “Charlie”. A gig with the Deans of Swing; a first marriage at sixteen; in winter 1946, a stay in the band led by Tommy Douglas, who applied him­self to correcting the mistakes of a willing young beginner; another rebuff, this time at the Reno Club during a jam with Count Basie‘s musicians (wavering when it was his turn to play, he saw Jo Jones’ cymbal come crashing down at his feet)... It was like the gong that sounded in Major Bowes’ Amateur Hour radio show when hopefuls had to step down from the microphone. Wounded, in summer 1947 Parker accepted an offer to play with George E. Lee in Lake Taneycomo in the Ozarks; with him he took four sides credi­ted to “Jones-Smith Inc.” – Shoe Shine Boy, Evenin’, Boogie Woogie and Oh! Lady Be Good – so that he might dissect Lester Young‘s solos. His comrades, guitarist Efferge Ware and pianist Carrie Powell, knew all the tricks of the trade, and took charge of Charlie‘s education. When he returned to Kansas City he was no longer the same man. The other side of the coin was less flattering: already a drinker and ampheta­mine-user, Charlie was now hooked on heroin. At the end of 1937 Parker had joined the band of Buster Smith who promised, “Charlie, we’re going to bring out what’s inside of you”. The bandleader was to be a kind of replacement for a father who was permanently absent: when Buster went to New York and left his band in the hands of Parker and Odel West, Charlie decided to follow him and unashamedly settled into Buster’s apartment. With a job washing dishes at the Chicken Shack where Art Tatum often came to play, Bird – it was his new nickname (1) – sat in on every session he could find at Clark Monroe’s Uptown House. “I remember one night I was jamming in a club on Seventh Avenue between 139th and 140th Streets. It was December 1939. I was improvising on Cherokee and I noticed that if I used the chord superstructure as a melody line, provided I could frame it with a suitable harmony, I could play the music I was feeling. It was like being born again.” (2) With help from guitarist William “Biddy“ Fleet, Parker managed to express what he could hear inside his head. When his father died, Parker went back to Kansas City, taking advantage of his visit to divorce Rebecca, who’d given him a son. After five months with Harlan Leonard, Charlie was hired by Jay McShann who, with the aid of impresario/businessman Walter Bales, had decided to form a big band. It was the last in a line of splendid orchestras from K.C. According to Gene Ramey, “The Jay McShann orchestra, where Bird and I worked so long together, was the only one that seemed to spend all its free time playing jam sessions. Everywhere. In trains, in buses... as soon as we got into town, the first thing we did was get together at someone’s place so we could start over.” (3) A tireless improviser who rebelled against all discipline, Parker had found his place in a band with a blues-based repertoire, playing simple, efficient arrangements that were filled with swing. In Wichita, Fred Higginson, a friend of Mc­Shann who also ran the local radio station KFBI, organised two record-sessions intended for broadcast. Gunther Schuller has gone on record as saying that “What you can hear of Parker’s playing in these transcriptions – as regards the authority and self-confidence in their creation – has nothing to do with trials or simple attempts. […] Naturally Parker hadn’t yet attained perfection in his execution or mastery of his ideas, but the novelty and originality of the latter appear evident. Nothing similar had yet been heard, either on a saxophone or in jazz generally.” (4) On April 30th and November 18th 1941, in Dallas and Chicago respectively, Jay McShann went into the studios for the Decca firm. His orchestra had thickened out since Wichita, and Parker now had an excellent neighbour by the name of John Jackson on first alto. There was to be some confusion as regards the names of those credited with the solos recorded. 


The arrival of the Jay McShann orchestra in New York didn’t go unnoticed: at the wheel of the truck carrying the band’s instruments and music-sheets, Charlie Parker took it into his head to drive through Central Park against all signs forbidding him to do so and promptly got lost... The band started at the Savoy Ballroom on January 10th, alternating with Lucky Millinder, whose band included Dizzy Gillespie in the trumpet-section. Naturally the two formations faced off against each other during one of those Sunday “battles of the bands”, and Panama Francis said, “At that time bands used to present musicians dressed with elegance. This one looked like they wore rags, but they knew what playing was supposed to mean. We just looked at them out of the corner of an eye without talking to them. To show them what we could do, we started out with one of our old favourites, Prelude in C sharp minor. […] McShann hit back with Swingin’ the Blues and they were still bringing the house down at three in the morning! They threw us offstage and that night, we all had the feeling we were a bunch of boy scouts!” Charlie Parker was unanimously held to have been the artisan of that victory, as can be heard in the radio transcription that came out of the Savoy Ballroom. On St Louis Mood, I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles, Hootie Blues and Swingmatism, Bird blows chorus after chorus after chorus. Nor did it stop him continuing to spend the rest of his nights over at Clark Monroe’s Uptown House; the sole trace of his adventures there remains an incomplete version of Cherokee.  On July 2nd, with Jay McShann and his musicians back in the studios, Bird cut remarkable solos on Lonely Boy Blues and Jumpin’ Blues, and the one he plays on Sepian Bounce was to have considerable impact on a whole generation of musicians.  When Bird left McShann – to fly on his own wings as it were – he went back to Monroe’s, and then went to Chicago to play with Noble Sissle; he returned to K.C. in September. At Vic Damon‘s studios Bird recorded four acetates that constitute essentials in the development of The Parker Art. Together with an old acquaintance, guitarist Efferge Ware, and the extremely discreet Little Phil Philips on drums, Parker uses I Found a New Baby, Body and Soul and My Heart Tells Me to respectfully salute his inspirations: Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins and Johnny Hodges. As for Cherokee, it announces the arrival of a revolutionary genius even more clearly than the Uptown House version. 


Thanks to Dizzy Gillespie’s savoir-faire, in December 1942 Parker replaced Budd Johnson in the orchestra led by Earl Hines. Bird and Diz had already met in May 1940 in K.C.: Diz had gone there with Cab Calloway, and trumpeter Buddy Anderson had taken Diz along to Local 627 of the Musicians’ Union – the Afro-American musicians HQ – so that he could hear him play with Charlie Parker. Diz had gone down without his trumpet, content to accompany them on piano. When he found himself faced with a fellow-traveller as dedi­cated as he was to musical exploration, he admitted he’d never heard anything like it. With Earl Hines, Bird had to play an instrument he found heavy and lifeless: the tenor saxophone. He mastered it in three weeks. Due to the Petrillo Ban (the studio-strike ordered by Musicians’ Union President James Petrillo), there‘s no official trace of the band on record... apart from the “Redcross acetates”. Bob Redcross was a friend of Billy Eckstine’s – the latter was Earl Hines’ singer at the time – and also an impenitent collector equipped with a machine that recorded directly to disc; Bob decided to set up his own session in Chicago, in Room 305 at The Savoy Hotel. In acoustic terms, what ensued is beyond tolerable limits, yet it‘s impossible to gloss over Sweet Georgia Brown, the first recorded testimony of the Bird & Diz tandem, here capably assisted by Oscar Pettiford: “Someone said I’d jam with Bird and Diz and I walked two miles carrying my bass. I didn’t have gloves and it was ten below.” (5) The title Yarding with Yard, on which Parker, playing tenor, paraphrases Lester Young‘s solo on Shoe Shine Boy and takes two beautiful choruses, is an essential example. The dreadful sound-quality of some of the others makes it easier not to shed a tear (Three Guesses, other Bird improvisations on 78s, Hazel Scott’s Embraceable You, or Benny Goodman’s China Boy and Avalon). Maybe it was due to the tenor he used, but here Parker seems somehow more in the background compared with his K.C. acetates.  In September 1943 he left Earl Hines’ band – remarrying in Chicago – and, after leading an outfit in K.C., he made a lightning appearance in Billy Eckstine’s orchestra without, however, leaving any traces. If some (classic jazz) players were quite disconcerted by Parker’s style, others showed great interest: Tiny Grimes, for example, with whom Bird had occasion to jam on 52nd Street. Tiny had played guitar with Art Tatum’s trio and when the Savoy label gave him a chance to expose his instrumental (and vocal) talents, he invited Parker into the studio. Perfectly at home in a swing context, Bird brought a tune with him, Redcross (or Red Cross). 

According to Teddy Reig, “I really do believe it was the first time we did a record with someone hysterical.” Reig had been entrusted with the job of supervising a session featuring a former dancer-turned-blues singer named “Rubberlegs” Williams. Among the sidemen were Dizzy Gillespie (who showed up an hour late), and Don Byas (who turned up after two and a half hours). Against all expectations, Charlie Parker was there right on time. It was a morning session, and because Bird hadn’t packed up over at The Savoy until four (he was playing with Cootie Williams’ orchestra, cf. the Floogie Boo track here), he hadn’t bothered going to bed at all that night.  Needing a pick-me-up, he dissolved a tab of Benzedrine in his coffee. But it was Rubberlegs who swallowed it. After copiously insulting Diz, “he literally hit the roof. The session started and during ‘What’s the Matter Now?‘ he started moaning and crying…” It was so bad that Trummy Young, Jimmie Lunceford’s trombonist/singer, had to take over after four numbers.  Parker couldn’t have cared less about the weird musical context and he remained in a peaceful mood: he plays an admirable obbligato on G.I. Blues, and Sorta Kinda sees him swapping brief but intense phrases with Dizzy. Their exchanges would reach perfection a month later but, before that, Bird renewedhis acquaintance with some old partners in Jay McShann’s Kansas City Rhythm, the band accompanying trombonist/singer Clyde Bernhardt. They did a rather inconclusive session where Parker was having trouble with his reeds, but on Triflin’ Woman he plays a phrase that became a leitmotiv throughout his blues improvisations, particularly Parker’s Mood. And for the first time – during his solo on So Good This Mornin’ – there appears that famous Woody Woodpecker quote which he used (abused, even) for the rest of his career. Dizzy Gillespie succeeded in signing a contract to record with the Guild label; the sessions that took place on February 28th and May 11th 1945 gave birth to music with historic and aesthetic values equalled only by Armstrong’s Hot Five recordings. Like the latter, the music they  produced tolled the knell for a whole period; and also opened up the future. These capital pieces are unexpectedly cohesive, all the more so since some of the participants aren’t “boppers” in the strict sense of the word. With Max Roach unavailable, the first to sit behind the drums is someone Dizzy had met while playing with Cab Calloway, Cozy Cole, who understood perfectly what was expected of him, as shown by his work behind Parker on Dizzy Atmosphere. The same intelligence is shown by Slam Stewart who, on this piece, takes an extremely judicious chorus.  Big Sid Catlett replaced Cole on the second session. One of the first to move away from the swing tradition of drumming, he played his accents on the bass drum while concentrating more on the cymbals. His appearance was brief, like that of Clyde Hart, who died in May while still in his prime. Dizzy chose Al Haig as his pianist: Al was in his twenties, and a frequent visitor to Minton’s; he created dialogues where his left hand provided a kind of descant for the right, and his sober accompaniment seduced Parker so much that he made him one of his regular partners. They said everything there was to say, each time, in three minutes. Breakneck unison passages in Groovin’High and Shaw’Nuff, sudden tonal splits in Salt Peanuts, the dramatic introduction to All the Things You Are... all of them great moments which, rhythmically or harmonically, had no equivalents at that time. The session’s masterpiece could well be Hot House, a daring paraphrase of Todd Dameron’s What is This Thing Called Love, where Dizzy begins his chorus by picking up the motif on which Bird closes. “Musically, I situate my playing with Charlie Parker as a period that comes way above anything else I’ve done in my career, at any level.” (6) Dizzy confessed that playing with Parker forced him to surpass himself; they complemented each other perfectly, and each gave preference to a specific aspect of bop: “Harmonically, I was a little stronger than he was, but with the rhythm he was way ahead; he had an amazing feel for phrasing, an essential quality in jazz. Yes, he showed a very original intelligence in rhythm, and he structured his phrases like no-one else ever had. Being alongside him gradually made me play more things inspired in me by his way of thinking.” (7)  Two weeks after the historic session that produced Lover Man, Bird and Diz joined up with Sarah Vaughan in the studio, where they played just three tunes due to Parker’s late arrival. Bird takes only one chorus on Mean to Me, and is content to play some clever descants on the other tunes.

By now, the Dizzy/Bird association was established on a permanent basis. They appeared with a quintet at The Three Deuces, with Al Haig, Curley Russell on bass, Stan Levey, and Sid Catlett and Max Roach alternating on drums. The 125-seat room was packed every night. According to Budd Johnson, “I would say that Charlie learned quite a bit from Dizzy, and Dizzy got quite a bit from Charlie. But they had two different styles, and when they started working together on 52nd Street, playing all this fantastic music, they started to jell.” (8) There remain few eye-witness accounts of the period, so here, whatever their sound-imperfections – what a euphemism! – are the closing chase-sequence from Sweet Georgia Brown and an unfortunately incomplete Blue’N’Boogie. They are literally unique.

Adapted by Martin Davies
 from the french text of Alain Tercinet

© 2010 Frémeaux & Associés – Groupe Frémeaux Colombini

(1) Some dark tale involving a car and a chicken? A reference to his gargantuan appetite? Or just a shortened “Yardbird”? Your guess is as good as mine. 
(2) Nat Hentoff & Nat Shapiro, Hear me Talkin’ To Ya, Dover Publications, 1966.
(3) Gene Ramey, Souvenirs de Bird, Jazz Magazine N°8, July/August 1955
(4) Gunther Schuller, The Swing Era, Oxford University Press, 1991
(5) Robert Reisner, Bird, the legend of Charlie Parker, Da Capo Press, 1977
(6) In the sleeve notes for the album Dizzy Gillespie: The development of an American Artist, 1940/46, Smithsonian Collection.
(7)(8) Dizzy Gillespie & Al Fraser, To be, or not... to Bop, University of Minnesota Press, 2009

Jay McShann: Recorded at the Trocadero Ballroom in Wichita on August 9th 1940, Walkin’ and Swingin’, mistakenly titled I Got Rhythm, has no solo by Parker. The same reason explains the absence of Wichita Blues (2/12/40), Dexter Blues (30/4/41) and One Woman’s Man (18/11/41), where the alto obbligato was played by John Jackson. 

Redcross acetates:
Boogie Woogie probably has Goon Gardner rather than Parker.

Cootie Williams: Recorded at The Savoy Ballroom at the end of 1944, You Talk a Little Trash alias The Boppers features Eddie Vinson on alto, not Parker.

Tiny Grimes Quintet: Following the belated release of various false starts elevated to the status of “takes”, the numbering of the latter has been modified: the ex-take 3 of Romance Without Finance now carries the number 5. The change doesn’t simplify the identification of the first releases; all the more since, throughout the Fifties, Savoy’s affiliates and the Savoy label itself slightly modified these takes over numerous 45 and 33rpm releases...

Clyde Bernhardt and Jay McShann’s Kansas City Rhythm: The only sound-documents that survive are “acetate” tests (on glass), whose cracks couldn’t be erased without severe damage to the sound.

NB. For the sake of authenticity, some of these documents have been maintained; where damage due to the nature of the original carrier is present, suppressing faults alters the music. The timbres, on the other hand, have been rectified where necessary


CD 1
Charlie Parker (as)    Kansas City, mid-1940
1. HONEY& BODY (F.Waller, A. Razaf, J. Green, E. Heyman - R. Sour, F. Eyton)     (Private Recording)    3’38 

Buddy Anderson, Orville Minor (tp) ; Bob Gould (tb, vln*) ; Charlie Parker (as) ; William J. Scott (ts) ; Jay McShann (p, ldr) ; Gene Ramey (b) ; Gus Johnson (dm).     KFBI Radio, Wichita, Kans., 30/11/1940
2. I’VE FOUND A NEW BABY (S. Williams, J.Palmer)    (Radio/Broadcast)    3’00
3. BODY AND SOUL (J. Green, E., R. Sour, F. Eyton)    (Radio/Broadcast)    2’51 Idem, prob. 2 /12/ 1940
4. MOTEN SWING (B. Moten, B. Moten)    (Radio/Broadcast)    2’49
5. COQUETTE (C. Lombardo, J. Green- G.Kahn)    (Radio/Broadcast)    3’09
6. OH ! LADY BE GOOD (G. & I. Gershwin)    (Radio/Broadcast)    2’58
7. WICHITA BLUES (C. Parker, J. McShann)    (Radio/Broadcast)    3’10
8. HONEYSUCKLE ROSE *(F. Waller, A. Razaf)    (Radio/Broadcast)    2’59

Buddy Anderson, Harold Bruce, Orville Minor (tp) ; Joe Taswell Baird (tb) ; Charlie Parker, John Jackson (as) ; Harold Ferguson, Bob Mabane (ts) ; Jay McShann (p, ldr) ; Gene Ramey (b) ; Gus Johnson (dm) ; Walter Brown (voc).     Dallas, Texas 30/4/1941
9. SWINGMATISM (W.J. Scott, J. McShann)    (Decca 8570/mx. 93730-A)    2’45
10. HOOTIE BLUES (C. Parker, J. McShann)    (Decca 8559/mx. 93731-A)    3’02
11. DEXTER BLUES (J. McShann)    (Decca 8585/mx. 93732-A)    3’02


Buddy Anderson, Bob Merrill, Orville Minor (tp) ; Lawrence Anderson, Joe Taswell Baird (tb) ; Charlie Parker, John Jackson (as) ; Fred Culliver, Bob Mabane (ts) ; James Coe (bs) ; Jay McShann (p, ldr) ; Leonard Enois (g) ; Gene Ramey (b) ; Harold “Doc” West (dm) ; Walter Brown (voc).     NBC Blue Network, Savoy Ballroom, NYC, 13/2/1942
12. St LOUIS MOOD (J. McShann)    (Radio/Broadcast)    4’15
13. I’M FOREVER BLOWING BUBBLES (J.W. Kellette, J. Kenbrovin)     (Radio/Broadcast)    4’07
14. HOOTIE BLUES (C. Parker, J. McShann)    (Radio/Broadcast)    4’36
15. SWINGMATISM (W.J. Scott, J. McShann)    (Radio/Broadcast)    4’11 

Charlie Parker (as)  with poss.octet featuring prob. Allan Tinney (p) and Ebenezer Paul (b) Clark Monroe’s Uptown House, NYC, jan./march 1942
16. CHEROKEE (R. Noble)    (Private Recording)    2’51 


 Idem 13/2/1942    New York, 2/7/1942
17. LONELY BOY BLUES (J. McShann, W. Brown)    (Decca 4387/mx. 70993-A)    2’59
18. THE JUMPIN’ BLUES (C. Parker, J. McShann)    (Decca 4418/mx. 70995-A)    3’06
19. SEPIAN BOUNCE (A. Hall, J. McShann)    (Decca 4387/mx. 70996-A)    3’12

CD 2

Charlie Parker (as) ; Efferge Ware (g) ; Little Phil Philips (dm).     Vic Damon Studios, Kansas City, c. 9/1942
1. CHEROKEE (R. Noble)    (Private Recording)    3’10
2. MY HEART TELLS ME (H. Warren, M. Gordon)    (Private Recording)    3’18
3. I’VE FOUND A NEW BABY (S. Williams, J.Palmer)    (Private Recording)    3’31
4. BODY AND SOUL (J. Green, E. Heyman, R. Sour, F. Eyton) (Private Recording)    3’42 

Dizzy Gillespie (tp) ; Charlie Parker (as) ; Oscar Pettiford (b). Savoy Hotel, Room 305, Chicago 15 /2/1943
5. SWEET GEORGIA BROWN (B. Bernie, M. Pinkard, K. Casey)    (Private Recording)    7’43 Charlie Parker (ts) ; poss. Billy Eckstine or Shorty McDonnell (tp) ; unknown (ts) ; Hurley Ramey (g).    Savoy Hotel, Room 305, Chicago 28/2/1943
6. YARDIN’ WITH YARD (unknown)    (Private Recording)    4’19

Charlie Parker (as) ; Clyde Hart (p) ; Tiny Grimes (g, voc) ; Jimmy Butts (b) ; Harold “Doc” West (dm).    WOR studios, Broadway, NYC, 15/9/1944
7. TINY’S TEMPO (T. Grimes, C. Hart)    (Savoy MG 12001/mx. S5710-1)    3’01
8. TINY’S TEMPO (T. Grimes, C. Hart)    (Savoy MG 12001/mx. S5710-2)    2’59
9. TINY’S TEMPO (T. Grimes, C. Hart) (master)    (Savoy 526/mx. S5710-3)    2’54
10. I’LL ALWAYS LOVE YOU JUST THE SAME (unknown)     (Savoy SJL 2208/mx.S5711-2)    2’56
11. I’LL ALWAYS LOVE YOU JUST THE SAME (unknown) (master)     (Savoy 526/mx. S5711-3)    2’59
12. ROMANCE WITHOUT FINANCE (T. Grimes)     (Savoy SJL 2208/mx. S5712-1)    3’06
13. ROMANCE WITHOUT FINANCE (T. Grimes)    (Savoy SJL 5500/mx. S5712-2)    1’01
14. ROMANCE WITHOUT FINANCE (T. Grimes)    (Savoy 1107/mx. S5712-3)    3’06
15. ROMANCE WITHOUT FINANCE (T. Grimes)    (Savoy 5500/mx. S5712-4)    0’44
16. ROMANCE WITHOUT FINANCE (T. Grimes) (master)     (Savoy 532/mx. S5712-5)    3’03
17. REDCROSS (C. Parker)    (Savoy MG 12001/mx. S5713-1)    3’16
18. REDCROSS (C. Parker) (master)    (Savoy 532/mx. S5713-2)    3’07 

Dizzy Gillespie (tp) ; Trummy Young (tb) ; Charlie Parker (as) ; Don Byas (ts) ; Clyde Hart  (p, arr) ; Mike Bryan (g) ; Al Hall (b) ; Specs Powell (dm) ; “Rubberlegs” Williams (voc).     NYC, 4/1/1945
19. WHAT’S THE MATTER NOW ? (C. Williams, S. Williams)     (Continental 6013/mx. W3301)    2’51
20. I WANT EVERY BIT OF IT (C. Williams, S. Williams)    (Continental 6020/mx. W3302)    3’12
21. THAT’S THE BLUES (R. Williams, M. Shad)    (Continental 6013/mx. W3303)    2’58
22. 4-F BLUES (R. Williams, M. Shad)    (Remington R1031/mx. W3304)    2’22
23 G.I. BLUES (4-F BLUES) (R. Williams, M. Shad)    (Continental 6020/mx. W3304- ?)    2’29 

CD 3

Dizzy Gillespie (tp) ; Trummy Young (tb, voc) ; Charlie Parker (as) ; Don Byas (ts) ; Clyde Hart (p, arr) ; Mike Bryan (g) ; Al Hall (b) ; Specs Powell (dm).    NYC, 4/1/1945
1. DREAM OF YOU (S. Oliver, E. P. Moran)    (Continental 6060/mx. W3305)    2’55
2. SEVENTH AVENUE (G. Powell, I. Higginbotham)    (Continental 6005/mx. W3306)    2’53
3. SORTA KINDA (J. Young)    (Continental 6005/mx. W3307)    2’44
4. OH, OH, MY, MY, OH, OH (F. Paparelli, Toomas, LeVeen)     (Continental 6060/mx. W3308)    2’50


Clyde Bernhart (tb, voc) ; Charlie Parker (as) ; Jay McShann (p) ; Gene Ramey (b) ; Gus Johnson (dm).    Nola Studios, NYC, 9/1/1945
5. LAY IT DOWN (C. Bernhardt)    (Studio Test)    2’24
6. TRIFFLIN’ WOMAN (C. Bernhardt)    (Studio Test)    3’20
7. SO GOOD THIS MORNIN’ (If It’s Any News to You) (C. Bernhardt)     (Studio Test)    2’11
8. WOULD YOU DO ME A FAVOR ? (C. Bernhardt)    (Studio Test)    3’05  COOTIE WILLIAMS SEXTET Cootie Williams (t) ; Charlie Parker (as) ; Sam Taylor (ts) ; Arnold Jarvis (p) ; Carl Pruitt (b) ; Sylvester “Vess” Payne (dm).    Savoy Ballroom, NYC, 12/2/1945
9. FLOOGIE BOO (C. Williams)    (Radio Transcription)    3’45 

Dizzy Gillespie (tp) ; Charlie Parker (as) ; Clyde Hart (p) ; Remo Palmieri (g) ; Slam Stewart (b) ; Cozy Cole (dm).    NYC, 28/2/1945
10. GROOVIN’HIGH (D. Gillespie)    (Guild 1001/mx. G554-1)    2’43
11. ALL THE THINGS YOU ARE (J. Kern, O. Hammerstein II)     (Musicraft 488/mx. G556)    2’50
12. DIZZY ATMOSPHERE (D. Gillespie)    (Musicraft 488/mx. G557)    2’49  DIZZY GILLESPIE AND HIS ALL STARS Dizzy Gillespie (tp, voc*) ; Charlie Parker (as) ; Al Haig (p) : Curley Russell (b) ; Sidney Catlett (dm) ; Sarah Vaughan (voc**).    NYC, 11/5/1945
13. SALT PEANUTS* (D. Gillespie, K. Clarke)    (Guild 1003/mx. G565A-1)    3’18
14. SHAW ’NUFF (D. Gillespie)    (Guild 1002/mx. G566A-1)    3’03
15. LOVER MAN** (R. Ramirez, J. Davis)    (Guild 1002/mx. G567A-1)    3’24
16. HOT HOUSE (T. Dameron)    (Guild 1003/mx. G568A-1)    3’12 


Dizzy Gillespie (tp) ; Charlie Parker (as) ; Flip Phillips (ts) ; Nat Jaffe, Tadd Dameron * (p) ; Bill deArango (g) ; Curley Russell (b) ; Max Roach (dm) ; Sarah Vaughan (voc).    NYC, 25/5/1945
17. WHAT MORE CAN A WOMAN DO ? (P. Lee, D. Barbour)         (Continental 6008/mx.W3325)    3’03
18. I’D RATHER HAVE A MEMORY* (L. Feather, J. Powell)    (Continental 6008/mx. W3326    2’43
19. MEAN TO ME (F. E. Albert, R. Turk)    (Continental 6024/mx. W3327    2’42 


Dizzy Gillespie (tp) ; Charlie Parker (as) ; poss. Don Byas (ts) ; unknown p, d, dm.  Monte Proser’s Concert, Lincoln Square, NYC, prob. 30/5/1945 
20. SWEET GEORGIA BROWN (B. Bernie, M. Pinkard, K. Casey)     (Private Recording)    3’27 


Dizzy Gillespie (tp, voc) ; Charlie Parker (as) ; Al Haig (p) : Curley Russell (b) ; Stan Levey (dm).    Academy of Music, Philadelphia, 5/6/1945
21. BLUE ’N BOOGIE (D. Gillespie, F. Paparelli)     (Private Recording)    3’09

THE COMPLETE CHARLIE PARKER GROOVIN HIGH © Frémeaux & Associés (frémeaux, frémaux, frémau, frémaud, frémault, frémo, frémont, fermeaux, fremeaux, fremaux, fremau, fremaud, fremault, fremo, fremont, CD audio, 78 tours, disques anciens, CD à acheter, écouter des vieux enregistrements, albums, rééditions, anthologies ou intégrales sont disponibles sous forme de CD et par téléchargement.)

The aim of 'The Complete Charlie Parker', compiled for Frémeaux & Associés by Alain Tercinet, is to present (as far as possible) every studio-recording by Parker, together with titles featured in radio-broadcasts. Private recordings have been deliberately omitted from this selection to preserve a consistency of sound and aesthetic quality equal to the genius of this artist.

Audio  rights : Frémeaux & Associés

THE COMPLETE Charlie Parker

CD 1
01 Honey And Body - Charlie Parker03'39
02 I'Ve Found A New Baby - Jay McShann Octet03'01
03 Body And Soul - Jay McShann Octet02'53
04 Moten Swing - Jay McShann Octet02'50
05 Coquette - Jay McShann Octet03'11
06 Oh Lady Be Good - Jay McShann Octet03'00
07 Wichita Blues - Jay McShann Octet03'12
08 Honeysuckle Rose - Jay McShann Octet03'01
09 Swingmatism - Jay McShann and His Orchestra02'46
10 Hootie Blues - Jay McShann and His Orchestra03'04
11 Dexter Blues - Jay McShann and His Orchestra03'05
12 St Louis Mood - Jay McShann and His Orchestra04'16
13 I'M Forever Blowing Bubbles - Jay McShann and His Orchestra04'08
14 Hootie Blues - Jay McShann and His Orchestra04'38
15 Swingmatism - Jay McShann and His Orchestra04'13
16 Cherokee - Clark Monroe's Band02'54
17 Lonely Boy Blues - Jay McShann and His Orchestra03'00
18 The Jumpin' Blues - Jay McShann and His Orchestra03'07
19 Sepian Bounce - Jay McShann and His Orchestra03'12
CD 2
01 Cherokee - Charlie Parker Trio03'12
02 My Heart Tells Me - Charlie Parker Trio03'20
03 I Found A New Baby - Charlie Parker Trio03'33
04 Body And Soul - Charlie Parker Trio03'45
05 Sweet Georgia Brown - Bob Redcross Jam Sessions07'45
06 Yardin With Yard - Bob Redcross Jam Sessions04'21
07 Tiny's Tempo - Tiny Grimes Quintet03'02
08 Tiny's Tempo - Tiny Grimes Quintet03'01
09 Tiny's Tempo - Tiny Grimes Quintet02'55
10 I'll Always Love You Just The Same - Tiny Grimes Quintet02'58
11 I'll Always Love You Just The Same - Tiny Grimes Quintet03'00
12 Romance Without Finance - Tiny Grimes Quintet03'07
13 Romance Without Finance - Tiny Grimes Quintet01'02
14 Romance Without Finance - Tiny Grimes Quintet03'07
15 Romance Without Finance - Tiny Grimes Quintet00'45
16 Romance Without Finance - Tiny Grimes Quintet03'04
17 Redcross - Tiny Grimes Quintet03'17
18 Redcross - Tiny Grimes Quintet03'10
19 What's The Matter Now - Clyde Hart's All Stars02'52
20 I Want Every Bit Of It - Clyde Hart's All Stars03'14
21 That's The Blues - Clyde Hart's All Stars02'59
22 4-F Blues - Clyde Hart's All Stars02'24
23 G-I Blues - Clyde Hart's All Stars02'29
CD 3
01 Dream Of You - Clyde Hart's All Stars02'57
02 Seventh Avenue - Clyde Hart's All Stars02'54
03 Sorta Kinda - Clyde Hart's All Stars02'45
04 Oh, Oh, My, My, Oh, Oh - Clyde Hart's All Stars02'52
05 Lay It Down - Clyde Bernhardt and Jay McShann's Kansas City Rhythm02'26
06 Trifflin' Woman - Clyde Bernhardt and Jay McShann's Kansas City Rhythm03'22
07 So Good This Mornin' - Clyde Bernhardt and Jay McShann's Kansas City Rhythm02'13
08 Would You Do Me A Favor - Clyde Bernhardt and Jay McShann's Kansas City Rhythm03'07
09 Floogie Boo - Cootie Williams Sextet03'46
10 Groovin' High - Dizzy Gillepsie Sextet02'45
11 All The Things You Are - Dizzy Gillepsie Sextet02'51
12 Dizzy Atmosphere - Dizzy Gillepsie Sextet02'51
13 Salt Peanuts - Dizzy Gillepsie and His All Stars03'20
14 Shaw Nuff - Dizzy Gillepsie and His All Stars03'05
15 Lover Man - Dizzy Gillepsie and His All Stars03'25
16 Hot House - Dizzy Gillepsie and His All Stars03'15
17 What More Can A Woman Do - Sarah Vaughan and His Octet03'04
18 I'D Rather Have A Memory - Sarah Vaughan and His Octet02'44
19 Mean To Me - Sarah Vaughan and His Octet02'44
20 Sweet Georgia Brown - Dizzy Gillepsie Sextet03'29
21 Blue 'N Boogie - Dizzy Gillepsie Quintet03'09
"Ce volume nous fait assister aux couleurs éclatantes de l’aube d’un génie" par Classica-Répertoire

Après les intégrales dédiées à Django Reinhardt (terminée) et celle de Louis Armstrong (en cours), voilà que paraît le premier volume de l’intégrale des enregistrements de Charlie Parker. La nouvelle est d’importance et devrait faire l’objet de mentions enthousiastes dans les médias si la musique y occupait la place qui lui est due. Rassembler dans l’ordre chronologique au sein d’une édition soignée, documentée, les faces donnant à entendre un des génies les plus authentiques du jazz est à la fois une quasi évidence esthétique et un pari commercial courageux et salutaire. Certes, la discographie du Bird est tout à fait considérable. Alain Tercinet, responsable de cette formidable entreprise a adopté avec sagesse une attitude raisonnable : «  En réunissant la quasi intégralité de ce qu’il grava en studio et de ce qui fut diffusé à l’époque sur les ondes, il est possible d’offrir un panorama exhaustif de l’évolution de l’un des plus grands génies du jazz ; cela dans des conditions d’écoute acceptables. » Les morceaux incomplets ou de qualité sonore très médiocre (ils abondent dans sa discographie) ne seront inclus que « lorsque la nécessité s’en fait sentir stylistiquement parlant ». Ce premier volume passionnant nous conduit du mythique premier témoignage gravé sur enregistreur portable par un Parker de 20 ans aux superbes faces révolutionnaires gravées avec Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan et quelques grands musiciens tels que Don Byas, Max Roach ou Sidney Catlett, en passant par les formations de Jay McShann, Clyde Hart ou Tiny Grimes. En 3 CD ce premier volume nous fait assister aux couleurs éclatantes de l’aube d’un génie. Strictement indispensable, donc.

"An absolutely fascinating time capsule" by Blues & Rhythm

Charlie ‘Yarbird’ Parker should need no introduction; recognised as one of the twentieth century’s true musical greats, he revolutionised saxophone playing in the forties. The recordings on these three CDs capture him in the very act, and additionally present jazz at a crucial time, when swing was shortly to give way to bebop, and when the blues could be played with a big band before r&b took over. Many of the recordings here were not made commercially - some are from radio broadcasts, some were made in concert, and a few, such as the fascinating opener, just Bird and his sax tackling ‘Honeysuckle Rose’ and ‘Body And Soul’, were never intended to be heard outside of the immediate circle. The sound quality therefore in not always pristine, but it does not really matter when the Jay McShann Octet hits its stride on a November 1940 radio broadcast. For readers of this magazine the highlight will be ‘Wichita Blues’, a wonderful example of the big band blues, but all are worth hearing. These seven tracks are all instrumentals, but Walter Brown shows up on the next session, McShann for Decca in Dallas, Texas, dating from six months later – Brown tackles the signature theme ‘Hootie Blues’, whilst the instrumentals, ‘Swingmatism’ and ‘Dexter Blues’ are, as you would expect, excellent showcases for the musicians’ abilities. Up next are four McShann titles from The Savoy Ballroom in 1942 (with the band introduced as ‘a brand new dance orchestra’!), with Hootie proving a closet West Ham fan and Bird Soloing at length, actually making ‘I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles’ listenable. A longer, rowdy version of ‘Hootie Blues’ sports some fine piano and another classy vocal by Mr. Brown, before the broadcast ends with the ‘musical hypnotism’ of ‘Swingmatism’. Clark Monroe’s Band then tackles ‘Cherokee’; Clark Monroe’s Upton House was where Bird would go after the evening shows with McShann had finished. The first CD closes with three McShann Decca titles from 1942, with Bird heavily featured on this trio of blues numbers (and Brown on two of them). CD two finds Bird accompanied just by guitar and drums for the first four titles, and these are followed by more private recordings made at the Bob Redcross Jam Sessions, with ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’ marking the first time that Bird and Dizzy Gillespie recorded together – the sound quality is poor but just about listenable. Next up are twelve tracks – three takes of ‘Tiny’s Tempo’ and five of ‘Romance Without Finance’, false start included – recorded for Savoy by the Tiny Grimes Quintet and these are definite hints of the coming sound of r&b, particularly with Tiny’s guitar ringing out loud and clear. The two takes of ‘I’ll Always Love You Just The Same’ feature Tiny’s ballad singing and ‘Romance’ has a fine jivey vocal. And does Bird’s tune ‘Redcross’ have a Scottish tinge? Following on is the (in)famous Clyde Hart’s All Stars 1945 session for Continental, at which singer Rubberlegs William drank Parker’s Benzedrine-laced coffee by mistake; the former dancer get progressively ‘out-of-it’, although some of the material is actually a little old-fashioned by the standards of the time. The same session continues on CD three, though trombonist Trummy Young takes over vocal duties from the unfortunate Williams, with the emphasis now on swing, then it is on to four tracks, rather scratchy studio tests, by another singer/trombonist, Clyde Bernhardt, backed by Parker and Jay McShann and his rhythm section. These are good, solid blues numbers from a singer who has often been undeservedly overlooked, and lead into a boogie-flavoured jazz piece from The Savoy Ballroom by the Cootie Williams Sextet, which also includes Sam ‘The Man’ Taylor on tenor sax. From here on though the focus of the set is much more firmly on the newly emerging sounds of bebop – bassist Slam Stewart is well in evidence on Dizzy Gillespie’s Musicraft session, Dizzy’s own well-known ‘Salt-Peanuts’ is included, and so too is Sarah Vaughan’s ‘Lover Man’ – Vaughan is also represented by a sophisticated three song session for Continental, accompanied by an octet. The final track, ‘Blue ‘N’ Boogie’ by the Dizzy Gillespie Quintet, recorded at The Academy Of Music, Philadelphia, is a useful glance into both how the musicians still used the blues and a reminder of how far the music changed in a relatively short space of time. All in all, an absolutely fascinating time capsule, capturing not only the evolution of one of the real innovators of jazz, but also a snapshot of a vibrant jazz and relatively sophisticated blues scene at a crucial time. It is not a set for the uninitiated though – some of the source material has not survived the intervening years too well, but those accustomed to listening to vintage music should not have too much trouble with the fluctuations in sound quality.

"L’explosion d’une personnalité hors norme" par Jazz Mag-Jazzman

En 2010, une intégrale Charlie Parker est-elle nécessaire ? Contrairement à ce qu’on pourrait penser, l’absence d’un tel travail est flagrante. On connaît des intégrales par catalogue, « The Complete Savoy and Dial Studio Recordings » (1944-1948). On se souvient des six volumes « Young Bird » de Masters of Jazz. Le choc provoqué par la musique de Bird engendra un appétit inédit pour les alternate takes et les captations privées, ce dont témoigne le coffret « The Complete Dean Benedetti Recordings » publié chez Mosaic (1947-1948). Au point de rendre fou les collectionneurs, tel Paolo Piangiareli avec sa collection « Bird’s Eyes » aux 76 volumes dont seules 25 références semblent publiées selon des logiques de regroupements si variées qu’on peut lui préférer les 18 CD de « Live and Private Recordings in Chronological Order » (New Sound Planet en Italie ou Sound Hills au Japon). Si l’intégrale Frémeaux arrive à point nommé, prévenons d’emblée les collectionneurs invétérés : ils n’y trouveront pas absolument tout parce que les enregistrements de certains solos « se situent à la limite de l’audible voire du supportable » nous avertit le livret. Out aussi les plages où Bird n’improvise pas. Mais l’essentiel est là. Car on peut faire confiance à Alain Tercinet. Son texte de présentation, sobre et très précis, est comme toujours parfait. Le plus étonnant à l’écoute de toutes ces plages, c’est d’emblée l’explosion d’une personnalité hors norme, et dans le même temps son évidente évolution. On a du mal à s’imaginer que Parker ait pu jamais mal jouer du saxophone tant dans Honey & Body l’essentiel est déjà là. Outre la virtuosité ou le vocabulaire qui se perfectionnent, c’est la modification du grain sonore qui est le plus impressionnant. Et, comme Coltrane, tous ses contemporains affirment que le disque ne rend pas vraiment la force de son direct ! Et dire qu’il va falloir patienter pour avoir la suite de ce travail éditorial d’excellence !

"Ce coffret vaut son pesant d’or" par Le Devoir

Il était temps comme enfin. De quoi comme de qui ? Pour une fois, Charlie Parker a été bien servi. Et ce, grâce à une étiquette franco-républicaine qui s’est auto-baptisée d’une appellation qui pourrait faire croire qu’il s’agit d’un cabinet de notaires de tendance « balzacienne » : Frémeaux & Associés. Les artisans de ce label proposent depuis peu le volume 1 de l’intégrale Charlie Parker intitulé Groovin’High. Jusqu’à présent, en matière de réédition Parker a été servi par des bus-boy, parfois par des serveurs, mais jamais par des chefs de rang, des sommeliers ou mieux par des maîtres d’hôtel. En écrivant cela on pense aux petits travaux réalisés par Verve et des malfrats de la péninsule italienne où les droits d’auteurs comme les droits d’exécution sont relégués sur les étagères des bibelots. Pour l’exemple, prenons Verve. Il y a une quinzaine d’années ce label pourtant riche a mené une entreprise de réédition logeant à l’enseigne de l’avare aveyronnais. Les gens de Verve ont additionné les versions de Yardbird, de Lover Man, Hot House et autres en les rassemblant dans un coffret de dix compacts. En clair comme au ras des pâquerettes, Verve a allongé la sauce – quatre fois Yardbird de suite ! – pour mieux imposer le gros prix : 310 $ en dollars 1995. T’sé veut dire ! Un, en enfilant les versions ils n’ont montré aucun respect pour le choix fait initialement par Parker et son producteur. Deux, on nous prenait encore une fois pour des cochons de payant. Avec Frémeaux & Associés, il en va tout autrement. Sous la direction d’Alain Tercinet, les archivistes, les historiens ont fait un boulot remarquable. Tout d’abord, mentionnons, soulignons, qu’à l’exception de deux morceaux il n’y a aucune redite, aucune répétition. Pas moins de 63 pièces ont été regroupées sur trois disques. Maintenant, de quel Parker s’agit-il ? Comme c’est le volume 1 d’une série qualifiée d’intégrale, c’est le Parker des débuts. Celui qui a commencé à jouer dans la ville où il est né : Kansas-City. La ville qui, soit dit en passant, est devenue le nom d’un genre, d’une école, soit le style Kansas-City. Pour mémoire, on rappellera que dans les années 30, Kansas-City était une ville dite ouverte. Il y avait pléthore de clubs, de cabarets, et bien évidemment de musiciens. Le premier morceau du premier cd est un enregistrement privé de Parker jouant en solo Honey & Body. Ensuite, la logique prend ses droits. C’est le saxophoniste dans l’octet du merveilleux pianiste Jay McShann, le saxophoniste dans le big-band de ce dernier avec une surprise. Laquelle ? La série d’enregistrements McShann est entrecoupée par un live du groupe Clark Monroe au Uptown à New York. Lorsqu’on n’entend pas Bird avec celui qui lui donna sa chance, on l’entend avec le quintet de Tiny Grimes, l’orchestre de Clyde Hart, le sextet de Cootie Williams, l’octet de Sarah Vaughan et bien sûr avec le quintet, le sextet et le « All Stars » de Dizzy Gillespie. On l’entend donc avec certaines des fines lames de l’époque : le ténor Don Byas, le pianiste Al Haig, le contrebassiste Oscar Pettiford, le tromboniste Trummy Young, le chanteur Billy Eckstine, le batteur Gus Johnson et quelques autres. Ce coffret vaut son pesant d’or pour une raison et une seule : l’évolution musicale de Parker. La maturation, affreux mot, de Parker. On part du blues, on embraye avec le swing on termine avec le « bibeaupe » dont il fut l’architecte avec Gillespie et Kenny Clarke. Autrement dit, on commence avec l’homme posé et on finit avec l’homme révolté. Chapeau à Frémeaux et à Alain Tercinet. Au fond, c’est à se demander si le saxophoniste ténor Houston Person n’a pas fait sienne la devise suivante : s’il n’en reste qu’un je serai celui là. Parce qu’on a beau regarder autour de nous ou plutôt écouter autour de nous, on ne trouve pas de ces saxos au long cours. De ces souffleurs qui creusent encore et toujours le sillon que Coleman Hawkins fut le premier à creuser. On l’aura compris, Person appartient à la lignée des Hawkins, Ben Webster, Don Byas, Eddie Lockjaw Davis. Aussi régulier qu’une montre suisse, versant allemand, Person nous propose comme à tous les huit mois un nouvel album. Il s’intitule Moment to Moment que publie l’étiquette High Note. Et comme d’habitude, Person montre qu’il sait fort bien s’entourer puisque… Puisqu’il a choisi Terell Stafford à la trompette, John Di Martino au piano, Randy Johnson à la guitare pour certains morceaux, Ray Drummond à la contrebasse et Willie Jones III à la batterie. Comme d’habitude (bis), le programme alterne ballades, blues, swing, standards et pièces originales. Person a ceci de génial et de séduisant qu’il fait ce qu’on attend de lui. Il laisse à d’autres le soin de défricher, d’explorer, pour mieux se consacrer à ceci : éviter que des pièces de jazz sombrent dans l’oubli. À sa manière, Person est plus archiviste qu’inventeur. Mais ce qu’il a d’extraordinaire c’est sa capacité qu’il a eu à nous fidéliser avec ce son pesant, langoureux, franc du collier. Avec Houston Person, on n’est jamais surpris, on est toujours conquis.

"Un coffre aux trésors" par Le Journal de Montréal

Véritable météore dans le monde du jazz, le saxophoniste Charlie Parker (1930-1955) fut en quelque sorte celui qui donna à l’improvisation ses lettres de noblesse. Autodidacte, chercheur, il écoutait aussi bien ses contemporains que Debussy, Ravel et Liszt. Il fut avec Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Bud Powel et le batteur Kenny Clarke, un « messie » qui se brûla rapidement les ailes par toutes sortes d’excès. Depuis que son œuvre est tombée dans le domaine public, les compilations et autres coffrets de très mauvais goût poussent comme la mauvaise herbe et vous font, hélas, dépenser votre argent pour rien. Grâce à la maison de disques Frémeaux & Associés, tous ces problèmes sont résolus, puisqu’elle a une passion peu commune pour les choses bien faites et la note bleue. Ce triple disque relate les premières armes du jeune Charlie Parker dans le grand orchestre de Jay McShann jusqu’aux feux d’artifice en trio ou avec le trompettiste Dizzy Gillespie. Un coffre aux trésors que l’on glissera sous le sapin, en pensant au collectionneur ou au simple néophyte.

"L’origine de sa brillante mais courte carrière" par Le Quotidien du Médecin

"Après plusieurs intégrales magistrales consacrées à Louis Armstrong, Charles Trénet, Henri Salvador, Django Reinhardt (vingt volumes) et à l’accordéon notamment, le label français Frémeaux & Associés, qui produit aussi ses propres disques et a obtenu des centaines de distinctions pour son travail muséographique de sauvegarde et de diffusion du patrimoine sonore mondial, se lance dans la publication des oeuvres complètes de Charlie Parker (1920-1955). Le premier volume (2 CD - direction Alain Tercinet), intitulé « Groovin’ High - 1940-1945 » vient de paraître. Si le double album commence par un étonnant enregistrement privé du « Bird » au saxe-alto en solo à Kansas City, sa ville natale, au milieu des années 1940, on le retrouve par la suite au sein de la formation du pianiste Jay McShann, qui fut à l’origine de sa brillante mais courte carrière. Viennent ensuite des sessions en trio (1942), et surtout les premières rencontres avec Dizzy Gillespie, avant une collaboration plus poussée et fructueuse avec le trompettiste à partir de 1945, qui contribua à créer la légende avec l’avènement du be-bop. Pour l’histoire..."

"Chez Frémeaux, décidément on aime les entreprises audacieuses" par On-Mag

"Après l’intégrale Django Reinhardt (20 tomes), celle de Louis Armstrong (en cours, déjà 9 parus), voici l’intégrale Charlie Parker. Chez Frémeaux, décidément on aime les entreprises audacieuses. Le premier volume regroupe, sur 3 CDs, l’enfance d’un chef : Charlie Parker de 1940 (il a vingt ans) à 1945 et l’on devine déjà la dimension du personnage.
Sur le premier CD, qui débute par un enregistrement privé d’un solo de sax alto à Kansas City, le jeune Charlie mêle Honeysuckle Rose et Body and Soul pour en faire un « Honey & Body », une manière de montrer qui il est et ce qu’il connaît. Et cela croît et embellit avec l’orchestre de Jay McShann. Dans ce très bon orchestre, il se fait entendre et sa façon de jouer, son phrasé, tout en volubilité et en apparente facilité, nécessitent de sacrées qualités, qu’il possède, de souffle et de générosité. Que soit sur les ondes d’une radio de Wichita (Kansas) à Dallas (Texas) ou au Savoy Ballroom de New York, il joue comme un furieux et toujours en-dehors des clous.
Sur deuxième CD, c’est la rencontre avec les autres grands qui cherchent, les Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Pettiford, Tiny Grimes, Trummy Young ou autres Don Byas, et qui trouvent. Le bop est là. Place aux boppeurs. C’est aussi l’époque des essais dangereux pour la santé. Foncer à cent à l’heure, pour beaucoup de musiciens de cette période, c’est aussi abuser des « substances illicites », comme on dit dans la police. Charlie Parker, dès l’âge de vingt ans, est déjà héroïnomane. Ce n’est pas le bebop qui va le désintoxiquer. On sent chez ce saxophoniste hors pair, déjà, une envie de foncer, de se donner à fond à la musique, de se noyer dedans. On comprend mieux l’étonnante réflexion de Teddy Reig : « C’était la première fois qu’on gravait un disque avec un hystérique. »
La troisième galette, en dépit de quatre plages difficiles à écouter, vu leur qualité sonore (mais indispensables historiquement) est presque celle de la plénitude. Déjà tout est en place, le Charlie Parker que l’on connaît est arrivé. Enregistrements démentiels avec Dizzy Gillespie, avec Sarah Vaughan, avec comme acolytes Trummy Young (tb), Don Byas (ts), Cootie Williams (tp), Slam Stewart (b), Cozy Cole (dm), Sidney Catlett (dm), Max Roach (dm), Tadd Dameron (p), comme si la présence de ce jeune saxo alto les aimantaient."
par Michel BEDIN - ON-MAG

« Toujours saisissant d’intensité » par Jazz Hot

Les personnes qui connaissent peu ou pas le jazz se posent souvent la question sur la curiosité des amateurs passionnés pour ce genre d’édition où l’on prétend à l’intégralité d’une œuvre, avec des prises où le bruit du souffle ou du sillon se fait entendre comme sur le 78 tours, avec des prises multiples, parfois tronquées, et un son d’un autre temps. Nous pouvons les rassurer, les anormaux ne sont pas ces curieux qui donnent à leur passion les moyens d’un enrichissement, mais bien ceux qui consomment leur vie durant des notes comme des illettrés, sans autre curiosité au-delà de la note que celle du battage médiatique du moment. Cela dit pour introduire une autre grande œuvre entamée par cet éditeur qui mérite d’être distingué du Delaunay d’Or® (on va le proposer au jury) pour l’ensemble de son œuvre pour le jazz. La récompense est appropriée car c’est bien à notre grand Charles que nous devons, à plusieurs titres, la traçabilité de l’histoire du jazz, et donc ce genre de production. Charlie Parker, qui ne vécut que 35 ans, a laissé dans une carrière comme un torrent, tout entière consacrée au jazz, beaucoup de témoignages de son art exceptionnel, souvent éparpillés (enregistrements de disques, mais aussi émission de radio, et une multitude d’enregistrements privés, « pirates », merci les pirates !). Réunir ces éléments dans une intégrale relève donc de l’acharnement, explique les réserves affichées d’emblée par l’éditeur en raison de la difficulté de réunir tous les matériaux. Il y a dans le monde un certain nombre de « frappés » de la musique de Charlie Parker (nous en connaissons en France plusieurs), et c’est un work in progress perpétuel. La manœuvre est ici dirigée par un connaisseur en la personne d’Alain Tercinet. Outre le travail discographique, les intégrales, comme pour l’édition d’œuvres complètes en littérature, sont l’occasion d’un travail biographique qui restitue, disque après disque, l’itinéraire court et pourtant si foisonnant de l’altiste de Kansas City. Dans ces premiers volets, de trois disques chacun, on découvre dès la première prise en soliste (une prise de travail de 1940, medley de « Honey-suckle Rose » et « Body and Soul », sur le magnéto du trompettiste Clarence Davis) que Charlie Parker est déjà là, le sens de la paraphrase codifié par Coleman Hawkins dans le titre célèbre repris ici, le sens de l’acrobatie et de l’équilibre porté à son zénith par Art Tatum. Les enregistrements suivants fixent le terreau où est né cet oiseau de bonheur : le blues et Kansas city, soit la glaise de cette musique et l’une des capitales du jazz des années 30, dont l’importance a été essentielle dans le développement du jazz. On aborde ensuite la rencontre de New York et l’heure, non des expérimentations, mais de la maturation (déjà à 20 ans) d’un langage qui ne fut une révolution que pour la France et l’Europe coupées du berceau du jazz pour cause d’occupation (cf. l’article sur Charles Delaunay). New York est l’occasion de la rencontre de Dizzy, mais aussi de tous les encore jeunes musiciens déjà confirmés, connus pour certains, les stars mêmes, parce que si Coleman Hawkins est une inspiration, il ne fait aucun doute qu’Art Tatum est le modèle pour Parker au sens de la perfection à chercher. Dans ce monde d’une excellence surnaturelle, il faut la loi du charbonnier et la puissance de l’artiste, son investissement corps et âme, pour imposer une nouvelle voix. Cela alla très vite parmi les musiciens, car un talent de cette importance, doué de la virtuosité de son maître Tatum mais au saxophone alto, s’est vite imposé. Plongez-vous dans ces premiers temps d’un génie, c’est toujours saisissant d’intensité, de beautés multiples toujours renouvelées, mais surtout, vous vous immergerez dans un monde qui n’est pas celui d’aujourd’hui, ni sur le plan esthétique, ni sur le plan artistique, ni sur celui de l’environnement (politique, social, économique…) Avec un peu de curiosité et d’ouverture d’esprit, on peu le relier à notre temps, trouver les filiations et finalement comprendre que Charlie Parker fut une évolution logique du jazz, qu’il s’intégra sans problème au sommet, et que l’art n’est pas d’un temps, que les beautés de cette époque, entre autres, sont de celles qui peuvent encore enchanter à condition de déshabituer nos oreilles du son du jour. Yves SPORTIS – JAZZ HOT

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