Charlie Parker: At Jirayr Zorthian’s Ranch

Ever since his death in 1955, there have been countless releases of Charlie Parker playing live, usually recorded poorly but with some inspired playing by the remarkable saxophonist. At Jirayr Zorthian’s Ranch (RLR 88622) is probably the first set of Bird music recorded during a striptease! That’s right: Bird blows on “Embraceable You” while dancers undress and the audience hoots in delight. Otherwise, one can only imagine what was going on when this music was recorded in 1952, possibly on Parker’s own portable tape recorder. The sound quality is mediocre, with Larance Marable’s drums sometimes drowning out the piano and bass, but Bird is heard in superior form. His group includes young altoist Frank Morgan, who sounds a lot like Parker and trades off with Bird on “Cool Blues.” Chet Baker was also in attendance that night and duets with Parker on “Scrapple from the Apple.” All this music is previously unreleased and this set is a must for Bird collectors, at least until the film version is discovered…