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Charlie Parker: Liveology

Charlie Parker’s reputation wasn’t made by a record label’s hype machine. Bird won respect the old fashioned way: he earned it from his fellow musicians, who spread the word after hearing him live and up-close at jam sessions and on gigs. Liveology (Everest) gives us an idea of what got them so worked up. Culled from tapes recorded in New York City at the Royal Roost, Birdland and Rockland Palace from 1948 to 1952, these 15 remastered and reissued cuts are generally more go-for-broke than even the best of Bird’s studio material.

Alongside versions of Parker favorites like “Ko-Ko” and “Ornithology” is a beautiful performance of Monk’s “‘Round Mid-night.” Bird’s solo on the tune-though rough-sounds as fresh and emotionally direct as anything he ever recorded, probably because we haven’t heard him negotiate Monk’s harmonic maze as often as we’ve heard him tackle the pop tunes that made up the bulk of his repertoire. It doesn’t hurt that Bird’s support on these tracks includes Bud Powell, Curly Russell and Art Blakey. The sound quality is dodgy, but that’s a relative trifle, given the music’s greatness.

Originally Published