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Various Artists: The Complete Dial Modern Jazz Sessions

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To understand the significance of Dial Records, a good place to start is the tune “Relaxin’ at Camarillo.” Camarillo is 50 miles northwest of Los Angeles, where Dial was founded in 1945 by Ross Russell, the young owner of the Tempo Music Shop, the record store he had opened the year before. The Camarillo State Mental Hospital is where Charlie Parker landed after being arrested for public nudity following a disastrous 1946 Dial session at which a whiskey-dosed Bird had trouble standing, much less playing in tune.

After getting out of the hospital in December, Parker showed up at Hollywood’s C.P. MacGregor Studios on Feb. 26, 1947, for a Dial session with four new compositions, including “Relaxin’ at Camarillo.” The “relaxing” in the title was as important as the “Camarillo,” for the 12-bar blues was taken at an unhurried pace, allowing Bird to emphasize his astonishing lyricism rather than the athletic speed that had marked his Savoy recordings on the East Coast.

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