Friday, November 22, 2013

Newly discovered recordings of Charlie Parker, unveiled

Chuck Haddix
This Autumn is being very rich for fans of Charlie Parker. Besides the two newly-published biographies by Chuck Haddix and Stanley Crouch (which I reviewed in Spanish for Cuadernos de Jazz), some months ago two previously unknown recordings by Bird were unveiled. They're actually by the Jay McShann Orchestra, but that's posterity for you.

Haddix's book
These treasures have been dug up by none other than Chuck Haddix, author of one of the aforementioned books, where he explains (on p. 48) with no mention to his own role in the story, that it was John Tumino, McShann's manager, who recorded two tracks on February 6, 1941, “Margie” and “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You”, which are today remembered as cornerstones of Tommy Dorsey's repertoire. Parker is featured in both tracks, and he's especially good in the latter, for the length and originality of his solo.

Both recordings were played in public in early September, during the annual convention of the International Association of Jazz Recording Collectors, or IAJRC, which actually took place in Kansas City.

The über-expert in jazz cinematography, Mark Cantor, was present and heard the records. This is what he says:
In the first, "Margie", in which the arranger seems to be channeling Sy Oliver and the Jimmie Lunceford recording, Bird has an 8-bar solo during a release late in the performance. What I found absolutely astounding [...] is a performance of "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You", as much a dance performance as jazz, in which Bird takes a 32-bar solo that is amazing in its maturity, complexity, and melodic invention. Let's hope these will be issued someday for all of us to enjoy over and over.
 Amen to that.

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