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Charles McPherson's Post-Bird Bop: A 70th-Birthday Tribute

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Charles McPherson is an alto saxophonist who spent much of his early career under the spell of jazz great Charlie Parker–but who fired the Parker sound with his own intense energy and expressive skills. Championed by jazz writer Ira Gitler, McPherson made a number of records for Prestige throughout the mid-to-late 1960s, garnering generally good reviews and gaining notice in a 1967 Downbeat critics’ poll as “talent most deserving of wider recognition.” But it was the era of the avant-garde, Miles Davis’ second great quintet, and the emerging influence of rock—and McPherson’s bebop-steeped sound struck some as antiquated. In a 1968 interview with Chris Albertson, McPherson criticized his contemporaries who, in his words, “segregated” themselves from certain kinds of music.

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