Happy Birthday Charlie Parker
Happy Birthday Charlie Parker
Happy Birthday Al Haig
One of the pioneers of Bebop, but Haig also played on Miles’ Birth Of The Cool sessions too.
“Salt Peanuts” by Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet), with Charlie Parker (tenor), Al Haig (piano), Curly Russell (bass), Sid Catlett (drums) (1945)
Swings So Cool and Edits So Gently
The Wall Street Journal’s Thomas Vinciguerra and NPR recently wrote about the 50th anniversary of the second most popular song of the 20th Century, “The Girl From Ipanema.”* Bluely Noted is filled with felicidade that one of our favorite songs and Antonio Carlos Jobim (along with co-composer Vinicius de Moraes), one of favorite composers, is receiving proper props, yet we also feel tristeza that the fact checkers at WSJ initially credited another bossa nova classic, Jazz Samba’s “Desafinado,” to Stan Getz and Charlie Parker. Sorry Charlie… it was guitarist Charlie Byrd who, following a diplomatic tour of South America and meeting Jobim and Joao Gilberto, introduced Getz to the bossa nova sound. Of course, Parker was nicknamed “Bird” and, while he did swing so cool and occasionally swayed so gently, the Bebopper had nothing to do with the Brazilian beat. Ironically, we think Gilberto is “the Charlie Parker of Brazil,” as he, like Bird, created a whole new music language that never existed before. As much as we love Jobim, his songs weren’t performed and recorded as bossa nova until Gilberto put his stamp on them in 1959.
As we’ve previously mentioned, we’re obsessive completists when it comes to “Girl From Ipanema,” with hundreds of versions, representing a United Nations of languages in our collection. This week, Bluely Noted honors both the girl and the boy from Ipanema, from elevator muzak incarnations to the swingin’ jazz club joyrides.
* “Girl From Ipanema” was surpassed only by The Beatles’ “Yesterday.”
Jackie McLean: New Soil at Blue Note 1959-63
Bluely Noted has a “thing” for alto sax players: Bird, Hodges, Pepper, Desmond, Konitz, Cannonball — we love ‘em all and Jackie McLean is a charter member of our alto club. While Hodges’ warm tone might be one of the most beautiful in all of jazz and placed on one end of a graph, McLean’s edgy, even abrasive sound would place him towards the other side, but that’s cool — sometimes we need something more bracing, like the brisk splash-on aftershave Hai Karate.
After releasing a dozen plus albums as a leader for Prestige in the mid-fifties, McLean recorded over twenty albums for Blue Note from 1959-67, nearly all of them indispensable. He was 27 at the beginning of this run, but he’d been on the scene for years, starting as a teen prodigy, soaking up the New York jazz scene with his pal, another teen prodigy, Sonny Rollins. His biography is the stuff of fiction, if it weren’t all true. By 19, he’d already played with his two idols, Charlie Parker and pianist Bud Powell, and worked on and wrote the title-track to Miles Davis’ Dig (1951), a seminal album in the emergence of Hard Bop. At 24, during session work on another seminal album, Charles Mingus’ Pithecanthropus Erectus (1956), he was famously punched by the volatile bassist and responded in kind by defending himself with a knife. He left to join Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers. McLean had been warned by Parker to stay away from drugs, but the lure proved to be too much. He recorded prolifically in the late-fifties and early-sixties: his heroin addiction had led to the revocation of his cabaret card and he was no longer allowed to perform in the city’s clubs. McLean became just as dependent on playing sessions as feeding his drug habit.
The Blue Note period documents a more mature artist, working with the label’s finest talent, at a time when artists were experimenting and rejecting the time-worn conventions of Hard Bop, a sound and movement he helped form, for newer modes of expression. This week, we’ll profile the early years of this Blue Note period, 1959-1963, capturing McLean trying to balance the familiar and the new.
Happy Birthday Duke Jordan
His piano intro to “Embraceable You” set the stage for Charlie Parker’s classic 1947 quintet — Bird on alto, Miles on trumpet, Tommy Potter on bass, and Max Roach on drums — and one of the greatest ballad performances in jazz history.