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Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie: Diz ‘n Bird at Carnegie Hall

This CD puts under one cover for the first time every usable piece of music recorded at the concert by Parker and Gillespie at Carnegie Hall on September 29, 1947. The quintettracks, “A Night in Tunisia,” “Dizzy Atmosphere,” “Groovin’ High,” “Confirmation” and “Koko,” have been reissued to a faretheewell and will be familiar to every serious bebop listener. Some of the Gillespie big band items surfaced briefly on an obscure Arco LP but have gone largely unheard for 50 years.

Gillespie recorded many of the same pieces before or after for Musicraft and Victor. But these concert versions have a raw excitement that gives further understanding of why so many people who heard it in person say it was the most stimulating of all big bands. They are of more than archival interest, most of all for the astounding fire of Gillespie’s playing. He was as hot with the big band that night as with Parker in the quintet. “Cubano-Be Cubano-Bop,” “Things To Come,” “One Bass Hit,” “Cool Breeze” and “Oop-Pop-a-Da” are staples of Gillespie reissues. However, there were no big band studio versions of George Russell’s pointillist arrangement of “Relaxin’ at Camarillo,” Tadd Dameron’s charts on “Hot House,” and “Salt Peanuts,” Dameron’s lush “Nearness” or of “Toccata for Trumpet,” a product of John Lewis’ early development as a composer and arranger.

In the recording balance, the saxophones are a bit muddy in spots and the piano sounds as if it’s being heard from backstage. The CD re-engineering brings everything out as far as possible. Gillespie’s sound has the clarity of a diamond.

The Parker-Gillespie tracks are among the crown jewels of Twentieth Century music. No two musicians ever played more closely together. The unison passages are as breathtaking as the solos, which are products of genius.

Originally Published