Charlie Parker: Charlie Parker With Strings

The Songs:

  1. Just Friends
  2. Everything Happens To Me
  3. April In Paris
  4. Summertime
  5. I Didn’t Know What Time It Was
  6. If I Should Lose You
  7. Dancing In The Dark
  8. Out Of Nowhere
  9. Laura
  10. East Of The Sun (West Of The Moon)
  11. They Can’t Take That Away From Me
  12. Easy To Love
  13. I’m In The Mood For Love
  14. I’ll Remember April
  15. What Is This Thing Called Love?
  16. April In Paris
  17. Repetition
  18. Easy To Love
  19. Rocker
  20. Temptation
  21. Lover
  22. Autumn In New York
  23. Stella By Starlight
  24. Repetition

Personnel:

  • Charlie Parker – alto saxophone
  • Stan Freeman, Bernie Leighton, Al Haig, Lou Stein, Tony Aless – piano
  • Ray Brown, Tommy Potter, Bob Haggart, Curly Russell – bass
  • Buddy Rich, Roy Haynes, Don Lamond, Shelley Manne – drums
  • Various string and wind players

In December of 1947, Charlie Parker appeared at one of producer Norman Granz’ jazz concerts at Carnegie Hall. On that occasion, he performed a Neal Hefti original composition called “Repetition,” which Hefti conducted and arranged for horn and string section accompaniment. This rekindled a long-held desire that Parker had to do an album of standards with strings. Granz was receptive to the idea and a session was held in late 1949. A 10″ album containing six tracks was released. A follow-up session the following summer resulted in another record with eight more track. The present CD, which came out in 1995, consists of the original two albums, plus five tracks recorded live in Carnegie Hall in September 1950, four more songs from a session in 1952, and finally, the original recording of “Repetition” from 1947.

Bird’s performances on these cuts are breathtaking. His playing was clearly inspired by the great arrangements. The sessions also featured top-notch studio string players and outstanding rhythm sections that included hall of fame players like Buddy Rich, Ray Brown, Roy Haynes, and Shelley Manne. Mitch Miller (from “Sing Along With Mitch) even appears, playing oboe on the original six track record. Clint Eastwood’s classic biopic Bird features a scene where some of these songs were recorded.

Charlie Parker With Strings became some of the most important performances in jazz history. The two original albums were Bird’s most popular records during his life. They were named to the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1988 and became very influential with other jazz musicians. Subsequent albums that borrowed this concept include trumpeter Clifford Brown With Strings, Billie Holiday’s late career classic Lady In Satin, Stan Getz’s Focus, and Wynton Marsalis’ Hot House Flowers. It was also very influential on the production style of several 1970’s recordings by Creed Taylor’s CTI label, that featured musicians such as Paul Desmond, George Benson, Grover Washington, Jr., Hubert Laws, and Freddie Hubbard in similar settings. (Buy it here.)

Suggested Reading:

Robert Reisner. Bird: The Legend Of Charlie Parker.

Suggested Viewing:

Clint Eastwood. Bird.

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