Charlie Parker was treated as an honored celebrity on his 1950 week-long tour of Sweden, sponsored by the Swedish jazz magazine Estrad. He avoided controversy. Asked about the conflict between traditional and modern jazz, he replied, "There is no point in talking about different kinds of jazz. The most important thing for us is to have our efforts accepted as music." When asked about race relations in America, he simply shrugged and refused to discuss the matter.
While the Storyville recording leaves much to be desired technically, it is marvelously atmospheric, documenting the last happy time of Parker's life when he was at the top of his game musically and not totally in thrall to heroin. Though during the tour, it's true, he did consume enough schnapps in which to float a battleship... or two.
"Anthropology" and "Scrapple From The Apple" are Parker's own compositions, the former sometimes known as "Thriving On A Riff." They are archetypal bebop. "Anthropology," from 1945, is loosely based on George Gershwin's "I Got Rhythm" and played at a ferocious tempo. Bird's solo is followed by one from Ericson. "Scrapple From The Apple," which Parker wrote two years later, is based primarily on the chord changes for "Honeysuckle Rose."
"Embraceable You" and "Star Eyes" showcase Parker at his most sumptuous, sometimes reminiscent of Johnny Hodges, who was the man on alto until Bird emerged from his woodshed to change the way the music was played.
"All The Things You Are" and "Strike Up The Band" on Side Two wind up recordings from the concert. Then comes the jam session, with a dip in sound quality but a gain in improvisational excitement and a feeling of being there, notably with Parker's take on "Body And Soul," which Coleman Hawkins had made his own in 1939. The session winds up with "How High The Moon," which he gradually converts to his own bebop classic "Ornithology."
Chris Mosey - All About Jazz
For many black jazz artists, in the mid 20th Century, acceptability and access was easier in the European continent. Here are three remastered vinyl reissues that are prime examples of the rich sounds that ex-pats from the swing and bop era could create when liberated from the constraints of a “prophet not accepted in his home town.”
Sahib Shihab was on some of the earliest bebop sessions, starting with Thelonious Monk and Dizzy Gillespie during the fledgling 40s. Here, he takes up the flute, soprano, baritone and bass sax while teaming with a rotating team of Johnny Hopps,-Alex Riel/dr, Niels-Henning Orsted Pederson/b, Kenny Drew/p-org, Bent Axen/p and a collection of continental horns for a collection of forward thinking hard bop originals. The team is funky on the title track, with Shihab gorgeous on the ballad “Extase” as well as the irresistible bopper “Di-Da.” Shihab’s flute is palpable on the peppy “Harvey’s Tune” and the band is in a noir atmosphere on “Tenth Lament.” Rich originals.
Possessing one of the most room filling tones in jazz history, tenor saxist Ben Webster is perfectly teamed with the Danish Radio Big Band and pianists Teddy Wilson or Kenny Drew on this evocative collection of standards. The grandiose “Greensleeves” has Webster framed by a lush string orchestra, while “Cry Me A River” has him teamed with the supportive big band. Webster himself roars like a lion on “My Romance” and is gorgeously sentimental on “Willow Weep For Me.” Webster sets the standard for what a tenor sax could do with a tone and sound that all other sax players dream of.
Charlie Parker is in inspired form in a 1950 concert recordings with a Scandinavian team which includes trumpeter Rolf Ericson. While the sound quality is not exactly top notch quality, the performance of Parker and company more than make up for it, as Bird is in an inspired mood for “Cool Blues,” a cooking “Scrapple From the Apple” and toe tapping “Anthropology.” Some fun surprises include a fun “Strike Up the Band” and hearty take of “Fine and Dandy” while a rare read of “Body and Soul” is a rich bon mot. A must for bird brains.
- George W. Harris, Jazz Weekly