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Jazz at Massey Hall -Charlie Parker

Published: 2012-01-11
Charlie Parker This album often appears reissued under the name “The Greatest Concert Ever." It is an all star lineup of Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, Charles Mingus, and Max Roach.

These guys were all involved in the creation of bebop about 15 years before this concert date (1953) and thus were all seasoned veterans by the time of the concert. Also this was the only time these five would record together and everyone plays brilliantly. A lot of earlier bebop recordings suffered from sound quality but this one sounds very good for a live concert.

One of the most famous live recordings in jazz history, this May 1953 concert from Toronto brought together five of bebop's greatest figures in alto saxophonist Charlie Parker (credited here as “Charlie Chan" in a purposely transparent attempt to sidestep Parker's exclusive recording arrangement with another record company), trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, pianist Bud Powell, drummer Max Roach, and bassist Charles Mingus.

Released following Parker's death two years after the date, the recording finds him in remarkable form, his playing robust, pointed, and witty. And although each participant is a band leader, composer, and groundbreaking stylist on his instrument, the performance demonstrates that Parker remained first among equals.

Compositionally, Jazz at Massey Hall leans heavily on the bebop book developed by Gillespie, and includes “Salt Peanuts," “Wee," and “A Night in Tunisia." Also featured are Tadd Dameron's “Hot House," the Ellington standard “Perdido," and “All the Things You Are." Initially released on Debut Records, a label co-owned by Mingus and Roach, the sound quality is certainly of the time
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