Weekly Posting, August 28th, 2020

Who was Charlie Parker? The first book to attempt an answer was Bird: The Legend of Charlie Parker, by Robert Reisner, published in1962. It’s a collection of firsthand accounts from people who knew Bird personally, from the famous to the forgotten, and it raises more questions than it answers. In fact, one central question hangs over the entire enterprise: how much of it is true? There were no attempts to verify these accounts, and there are no disclaimers to be found as to their questionable veracity. On the other hand, the book’s title serves as fair warning. These accounts are indeed the stuff of legend, … Continue reading Weekly Posting, August 28th, 2020

Weekly Posting, August 21st, 2020

On August 20th, 1953, Charlie Parker (Bird) sent a Western Union Money Order to his wife Chan from St Louis, Missouri, with the following message: HOLD ON TIGHT AND BE GOOD AND CALL ME There is a chain of such telegrams stretching from June, 1952, to October, 1954, and they form a narrative of sorts, snapshots of time, place, and–to the extent that it’s reasonable to infer–the state of Bird’s marriage. All these messages accompanied money orders that Bird sent Chan from the road to support their family. Bird was making an attempt at financial responsibility, a concept foreign to … Continue reading Weekly Posting, August 21st, 2020

Weekly Posting, August 14th, 2020

On August 14, 1947, Miles Davis made his first recording date as a leader at Harry Smith Studios in New York City, for Savoy Records. Savoy was owned and operated by legendary cheapskate Herman Lubinsky, but it was Teddy Reig, Savoy‘s A&R man, who organized and supervised the recording sessions. Reig was a legend in his own right. Six feet tall, three hundred pounds, and inclined to to yell in order to make a point, he grew up in Harlem, chose 52nd Street over high school, knew every jazz musician on the scene personally, engaged in various hustles to make … Continue reading Weekly Posting, August 14th, 2020

Weekly Posting, August 7th, 2020

On Wednesday, August 8th, 1951, Charlie Parker (Bird) entered RCA Victor studios in New York City, accompanied by Red Rodney, trumpet, John Lewis, piano, Ray Brown, bass, and Kenny Clarke, drums. This assemblage bore some resemblance to Bird’s working quintet because it included Red Rodney, who had replaced Kenny Dorham at the end of 1949. Producer Norman Granz made a conscious effort, it would seem, not to record Bird’s working quintet, despite the artistic success of the Dial and Savoy recordings, so this date is the only studio recording with Bird and Red Rodney together. At the beginning of the year, Granz … Continue reading Weekly Posting, August 7th, 2020

Weekly Posting, July 31st, 2020

On July 30th, 1953, Charlie Parker (Bird) recorded four sides for Norman Granz at Fulton Recording, NYC, accompanied by Al Haig, Percy Heath, and Max Roach. Max Roach related an interesting anecdote to Phil Schaap concerning Bird’s composition, “Chi Chi”.  Bird came by my place one morning and I was laboring over this [music]. This is when I was recording, when Mingus and I formed the Debut Company and I did date with Cou-Manchi-Cou and all that stuff in it. And Bird came by and I said, “Damn!“ It was like 3 o’clock in the morning. I lived on 30th St. between 3rd and 2nd … Continue reading Weekly Posting, July 31st, 2020

Weekly Posting, July 24th, 2020

On June 29th, 1951, Down Beat magazine published a brief piece in its My Best On Wax series, featuring the words of Charlie Parker (Bird), which ran as follows: I’m sorry, but my best on wax is yet to be made. When I listen to my records I always find that improvements could be made on each one. There’s never been one that completely satisfied me. If you want to know my worst on wax, though, that’s easy. I’d take Lover Man, a horrible thing that should never have been released. It was made the day before I had a nervous breakdown. No, I … Continue reading Weekly Posting, July 24th, 2020

Weekly Posting, July 17th, 2020

Today is Pree Parker’s birthday. If you consult the indexes of the many Charlie Parker (Bird) biographies, you will always find an entry for Pree, Bird’s first child with his fourth wife, Chan. There are always a few individual page numbers listed. They take you to the event of her birth, on July 17th, 1951, and then jump to the event of her death, on March 6th, 1954. Biographers don’t devote a lot of attention to what happened in between, aside from noting that Pree had a number of chronic health issues. Chuck Haddix has more to say about their … Continue reading Weekly Posting, July 17th, 2020

Weekly Posting, July 10th, 2020

On Saturday, July 10th,1948, Charlie Parker ( Bird) performed in New York City, at the Onyx club on 52nd St., with his classic quintet, on the penultimate night of a one-week engagement. The music that evening was recorded by Dean Benedetti, a Los Angeles-area saxophonist whose name has come up before in connection with Ross Russell‘s book, Bird Lives. (Brace yourself for the return of Russell in a couple of weeks, since the anniversary of Bird’s California breakdown and incarceration is fast approaching.) Dean was a tragic and somewhat hapless figure who was so smitten with Bird’s playing that he made it his highest … Continue reading Weekly Posting, July 10th, 2020

Weekly Posting, July 3rd, 2020

At 7 PM on January 23rd, 1954, Charlie Parker (Bird) was interviewed by John McClellan on his WHDH radio show, Top Shelf. A feeling of déjà vu was inevitable, because Bird had been interviewed by McClellan the previous June, during a one-week engagement at the Hi Hat club. Bird was back in Boston for another run at the Hi Hat, from January 18th through 24th, 1954, and was once again invited into the WHDH studios for an interview. Someone involved may have tried to prevent history from repeating itself, because the previous interview had been a debacle of sorts. To put … Continue reading Weekly Posting, July 3rd, 2020

Weekly Posting, June 26th, 2020

I was particularly short on time this week, so I can only offer a bite-sized interview and my usual rants. Next week comes the third and final full length Bird interview, with Paul Desmond and John McClellan, and there will be much to say about that. But today’s interview is an oddity that was brought to my attention by fellow Bird fanatic, Jay Brandford. It’s a brief radio interview conducted by telephone on WOV by Leigh Kamman, a DJ who went by the inexplicable nickname of “the Little Band Master”. On the Clueless White Guy Scale, from 1 to Marshall … Continue reading Weekly Posting, June 26th, 2020