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Charlie Parker - "Summit Meeting at Birdland" (1953)

NYC, May 9, 1953. Released on Columbia (1977) as "Charlie Parker - Summit Meeting At Birdland", with Charlie Parker (alto sax); John Lewis (piano); Curly Russell (bass); Kenny Clarke (drums); Candido (percussion).

From the liner notes by Gary Giddins:

"The final summit conference in this collection takes us back to Birdland, on May 9, 1953, when Bird (playing a plastic alto – shades of Ornette Coleman), is joined by one of the fathers of modern drumming, Kenny Clarke, the prolific Curley Russell, and John Lewis, the composer pianist, best known as the guiding force behind the Modern Jazz Quartet, of which Clarke was a charter member. Bird never flew higher than when he was playing the blues and the "Cool Blues" inspired some of his best performances. Lewis's solo exemplifies his original, meticulous sense of time. He moves cagily from single notes to chords. After his patented intro to "Star Eyes," Bird can hardly wait to go beyond the melody. The voice-like inflection at the beginning of his solo hints at Ornette Coleman's expressive sound, as does the remarkable series of phrase permutations beginning at the release. Yet there is also a lyricism suggestive of Lester Young. He seems to be going so far out on the changes that Lewis gently reminds him of his place with a few aptly chosen chords. "Moose the Mooch," yet another configuration on "I Got Rhythm," was introduced by Parker in 1946. We hear him in an expansive mood, employing a shrill sonority in the channel, a harsh stabbing figure in the second chorus and references to "Let's Fall in Love," "Over There," and, during the fours, "Laugh Clown Laugh." The band goes into the Birdland theme, composed by George Shearing in 52, but there is still time for an encore as the great conga virtuoso, Candido, sits in for "Broadway." It's an anticlimactic ending, but then how do you follow Bird? As John Coltrane brooded many years later: "Charlie Parker did all the things I would like to do and more – he really had a genius, see."

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