The Immortal Charlie Parker
Label: Savoy MG 12001 12" LP mid 1950s
Charlie Parker made his first recordings in 1940, as 20-year-old with Jay McShanns orchestra in Wichita, Kansas.
These are radio broadcasts, first issued on the UK label Spotlite in 1974 (left image above). The bassplayer beside Parker is Gene Ramey.
The image to the right shows a 10" LP (Decca 8559) from the early 1950s, where the famous recording of "Hootie Blues" from 1941 is issued on vinyl for the first time.
Before Charlie Parker made his first recordings as a leader, he participated in some sessions led by other musicians.
This applies among others, Clyde Hart's All-Stars with singer Rubberlegs Williams, recorded in January 1945 for the Continental label. Later issued as "The Birth of Bebop and Blues" on 10" LP (Remington R-1031) and as "Bird Lives" on 12" LP (Continental CLP 16004).
A remarkable session took place in June 1945 at the WOR Recording Studios in New York. It was lead by Red Norvo and among the players beside Charlie Parker was Dizzy Gillespie. The recordings were issued as "Red Norvo's Fabulous Jam Session" on a 12" LP in early 1950s on the Dial label (LP-903).
Dizzy Gillespie himself led a couple of sessions with Charlie Parker for the Guild label in early 1945. They were issued on 78s and have been called the first commercial bebop recordings. In mid 1950s they were reissued on Dizzy's LP "Groovin' High" (Savoy MG-12020).
The pianist Sir Charles Thompson led a session for the Apollo label in September 1945, with
Charlie Parker and Dexter Gordon among others. The recordings were issued on a 10" LP in 1951 (Apollo LAP-103).
All Charlie Parker's recordings as a sideman in 1945 are collected on this double LP album from early 1980s: Every bit of it (Spotlite SPJ150D).
Here are the complete sessions with Clyde Hart, Red Norvo, Dizzy Gillespie and Sir Charles Thompson. Also with Cootie Williams, Sarah Vaughan and Slim Gaillard + his first session for Savoy as a leader (see below).
Charlie Parker's first recording as a leader was in New York in November 1945 for the Savoy label. In all he took part in some 10 sessions for the label until 1948. Mostly quintet recordings including Miles Davis and Max Roach, and either Bud Powell, John Lewis or Al Haig on piano. The recordings were first issued on 78s.
Around 1950 the Savoy material were issued on four 10" LP albums, in a series called "New Sounds In Modern Music, As played by its Creator". The recordings were not issued in chronological order, but mixed on the four albums. They have all the same cover design, but with different colors, and with blank back covers without any session details.
The picture above shows vol 1 of the series, Savoy MG 9000. See the other volumes below, as well as the alternative covers that exist, but which were issued some years after the original series.
Alternate cover for the first Savoy 10" LP above (Savoy MG 9000).
Design: Burt Goldblatt.
Charlie Parker, Volume 2. 10" LP. Label: Savoy MG 9001.
Alternate cover for the second Savoy 10" LP above (Savoy MG 9001).
Design: Burt Goldblatt.
Charlie Parker, Volume 3. 10" LP. Label: Savoy MG 9010.
Alternate cover for the third Savoy 10" LP above (Savoy MG 9010).
Design: Burt Goldblatt.
Charlie Parker, Volume 4. 10" LP. Label: Savoy MG 9011.
Alternate cover for volume 4 in the Savoy 10" serie (Savoy MG 9011).
A fifth 10" album was issued by Savoy in 1953. It was titled "Bird - Diz - Bud - Max" (Savoy MG 9034). Cover design by Burt Goldblatt.
After Parker's death in 1955 the Savoy label issued their first 12" LP album. It was titled Charlie Parker Memorial (MG-12000) and included material from the 10" LP series plus alternate takes.
The album marked the beginning of a new LP series with Parker's Savoy recordings, that delighted the fans with lots of previously unissued music.
The second album in the new series was called The Immortal (Savoy MG-12001), and then came Memorial vol.2 (MG-12009) and The Genius (MG-12014).
The fifth and final LP in the Savoy's mid 1950s series was called "The Charlie Parker Story" (MG-12079). The album contains all the takes in chronological order from Parker's first recording as a leader of November 1945, the famous Ko-Ko session.
The photo on the first cover is originally in black & white (by Herman Leonard) and the album exists in both b&w and color. So even for this LP series the albums exist with different cover designs. A notable variation is the painting of Charlie Parker sitting on a throne-like chair.
In the early 1960s the Savoy label also issued some radio broadcast recordings by Charlie Parker on LP. "The Bird Returns" (MG-12179) was issued in 1962 and "Newly Discovered Sides" (MG-12186) came in 1964.
In December 1945 Dizzy Gillespie took a group including Charlie Parker to Los Angeles to play at Billy Berg's nightclub. After the engagement Dizzy returned to New York while Charlie Parker stayed behind. Parker approached George Russell, the founder of Dial Records, and they wrote an one-year recording contract.
The first session took place in Los Angeles on March 28, 1946, followed by further six sessions until December 1947. The last three sessions were in in New York, and unlike the California sessions they were made with Parker's regular band including Miles Davis, Duke Jordan, Tommy Potter and Max Roach.
The recordings were issud on 78s, and from 1949 on vinyl. Above the first 10" LP (Dial 201).
Charlie Parker. Vol 2. Dial 202. US 10" LP.
Charlie Parker. Vol 3. Dial 203. US 10" LP.
The fourth and last volume in the 10" series
(Dial 207) occurs with two different covers, which the other volumes in the series do not.
The Dial label also issued some of their Charlie Parker recordings on 12" LPs. The first was issued in 1949 and titled "The Bird Blows The Blues". It seems to be the first 12 inch jazz LP ever made. It was a kind of promo edition, pressed in about 50 copies and sold by mail-order only, during some few weeks in the spring of 1949.
No cover was made for this issue. The catalogue number is Dial DLP 1.
Soon after the first promo edition, Dial issued a new edition of "The Bird Blows The Blues". The catalogue number was changed to Dial 901 and this issue is known with two different covers. The cover to the left is probably the first and is illustrated by Bruce Mitchell.
In early 1950s Dial issued another three 12" LPs with Charlie Parker. The first was "Red Norvo's Fabulous Jam Session" on Dial 903 (see picture near the top of this page).
The second was Dial 904, titled Alternate Masters, vol 1, containing previously unreleased recordings for Dial. The company used the same cover illustration by Bruce Mitchell as before, but also issued the record with an alternate cover (to the right).
The last Charlie Parker Dial LP was the second volume of the "Alternate Masters", containing more previously unreleased recordings. No alternate cover is known for this issue.
In September 1947 Parker and Gillespie performed in the first bop concert to be held in Carnegie Hall. They played five numbers with a quintet which were privately recorded and first issued on 78s. In mid 1950s the music was issud on this 10" LP (Birdland LP425). The cover design is by Burt Goldblatt.
Many private recordings by Charlie Parker have been issued over the years. This LP from mid 1950s (Jazz Workshop JWS-501) was recorded at St. Nick's in New York in February 1950.
A second LP from the Jazz Workshop label (JWS-501) was released about the same time. It contains private recordings from The Onyx Club in New York in July 1948.
In January 1946, in Los Angeles, Charlie Parker made his first appearance at Norman Granz's Jazz at the Philharmonic concert series.
This concert is the first recorded documentation of Parker and his early idol, Lester Young, playing together. The concert was recorded by Mercury and issued on the 10" LP above (MG 35003 - also on Clef MG vol 2). The cover portrait of Lester Young is made by David Stone Martin.
Charlie Parker went on to play in Norman Granz's package concerts of Jazz at the Philharmonic. He appears on several of the records that were produced by Norman Granz and issued on both the Mercury and Clef labels.
Above some of the 10" LPs that came out in the early 1950s. The cover designs are made by David Stone Martin.
Norman Granz also produced a series of studio recordings called Jam Session. Charlie Parker appeared in a session in Hollywood in May 1952 with Ben Webster, Benny Carter and Johnny Hodges among others. This session was issued as Vol. 1 and 2 in the Jam Session series, on LP on both Mercury and Clef (Vol. 1 to the left - Mercury MG C-601).
The image to the right shows the cover of a 2LP box which was issued by the Norgran label in 1954 (MGN-3501/2). The music is recorded at Carnegie Hall in September 1950 and Charlie Parker performs with strings. Also Lester Young and Coleman Hawkins performed at this concert. Both covers above are made by David Stone Martin.
Charlie Parker toured in Sweden in November 1950. The music is documented on two LPs, both issued in Sweden around 1960. They are private recordings of Parker's tour in southern Sweden.
The first came on the very small Oktav label (OKTLP 164) and are recorded in Malmo. Parker plays with Swedish musicians on four tracks. On the other tracks Arne Domnerus plays the alto sax.
The second of the two LPs from Parker's tour in Sweden was privately recorded during a concert in Helsingborg. Parker played with a Swedish quintet with Rolf Ericson on trumpet.
This LP was issued by Sonet (SLP 27). The original pressing was released in 1000 numbered copies.
The famous concert at Massey Hall in Toronto was recorded by Charles Mingus in May, 1953. The Quintet who played was Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, Max Roach and Mingus himself.
Mingus and Max Roach had started their own record label, Debut Records, and the first set of the concert was issued on this 10" LP (Debut DLP-2).
The second set of the Quintet concert at Massey Hall was issued as Vol. 3 of the 10" LPs from Debut (DLP-4). Vol. 2 was a trio set with Bud Powell.
In 1956 the Massey Hall Quintet concert was issued on a 12" LP (Debut DEB-124).
Note that Charlie Parker appeared on these Debut records as "Charlie Chan".
Charlie Parker made studio recordings with strings several times, the first in November 1949 for the Mercury label. They were issued on a 10" LP in early 1950s (Clef MGC-501 and Mercury MGC-501).
This 10" LP is the second with Charlie Parker and strings. It was recorded in July 1950 and issued in early 1950s on both Mercury and Clef (MGC-509).
Parker's recordings for Norman Granz actually stand somewhat in the shadow of the masterpieces on Savoy and Dial, but it was thanks to Granz and the recordings on Clef, that Parker's music reached a wider audience.
For Parker himself the recordings with strings was a sort of proof of artistic legitimacy, even if the sentences tend to be divided on the artistic content of this beloved music.
The cover is made by David Stone Martin.
In mid 1950s Charlie Parker's string recordings were collected on a Clef 12" LP (MGC-675). For that issue the company used the same cover design as for the first 10" LP above.
When the LP was reissued in 1957 on Verve, a new cover was used and with a new title: April in Paris. It came as Vol. 2 in Verve's series "The Genius of Charlie Parker" (MGV-8004). Cover photo by Herman Leonard.
This classic was recorded in 1950 with a quintet that also included Thelonious Monk on piano. The recordings were issued on a 10" LP by both Mercury and Clef (MGC-512). Cover art by David Stone Martin.
When the Parker-Gillespie quintet 10" LP (above) was reissued on Verve in 1957 on 12" LP it had a new cover design. It was issued as Vol. 4 in Verve's series "The Genius of Charlie Parker" (MGV-8006).
The original copy of the cover photo is also known for a young John Coltrane who appears next to Dizzy (here cut off).
Charlie Parker liked Latin music and made some recordings with Machitos Afro-Cuban Orchestra during 1948-1950. They were issued on two 10 "LP on Mercury and Clef in the early 1950s (MGC-505 and MGC-511).
The right cover is made by David Stone Martin, which also the cover to the left seems to be done. But this is not the case. The artist is Elizabeth Dauber and she made a number of covers on behalf of Martin. Her illustrations strongly reminiscent of Martin's style and where she not signed the covers, they easily can be taken to be made by David Stone Martin himself.
Parker continued in the early 1950s to record music with a Latin touch. Now, he did not use the Machitos orchestra but his own quartet or quintet added with Latin rhythm instrument. A 10" LP, titled "South of the Border" was issued in 1952 by both Clef and Mercury (MGC-513).
The cover was made by David Stone Martin. He says in an interview that it was "his own crazy idea" doing Bird
as a bullfighter who tries to tame the bull by the sound of a saxophone. He also points out that neither Norman Granz or Charlie Parker saw the cover before it was printed.
The music from "South of the Border" (the 10" LP above) were reissued in 1957 as Vol. 6 in Verve's LP series "The Genius of Charlie Parker". It was titled Fiesta (Verve MGV-8008).
Charlie Parker made some quartet sessions in 1952 and 1953. They were issued on this 10" LP on the Clef label (MGC-157).
David Stone Martin often used the term to see musicians on stage from a rear-view. This is a variation on that theme, glimpses of a scene as seen from backstage.
The quartet sessions on the Clef 10" LP above were reissued in 1957 as Vol. 3 in Verve's LP series "The Genius of Charlie Parker". The new title was "Now's The Time" (MGV-8005).
In 1951 Parker made some quintet recordings which were issued in 1954 on this 12" LP, titled The Magnificent Charlie Parker (Clef MGC-646).
It's one of David Stone Martin's craziest cover, and a favorite to many.
The Clef LP above was reissued on Verve in 1957 as ""Swedish Schnapps" and Vol. 8 in the series "The Genius of Charlie Parker" (MGV-8010).
The original cover on Clef was freaked out, but funny. What to say about the new cover with its picture of Stockholm City Hall?
It was not often Charlie Parker performed with big band, but in 1954 came a 12" LP on Clef (MGC-609). It's mainly recordings from 1952 with a big band led by Joe Lippman, who also wrote the arrangements.
The cover was made by David Stone Martin, once again using a bird as a symbol of Parker.
The reissue LP of the big band recordings came in 1957 and was titled "Night and Day" (Verve MGV-8003).
It was the first volume in the series "The Genius of Charlie Parker" that Verve released in 1957.
There was in all 8 volumes in Verve's 1957 LP series "The Genius of Charlie Parker". This is Vol. 7, titled Jazz Perennial (MGV-8009). It mainly contains material from EPs and 10" LPs.
Volume 5 in Verve's 1957 series "The Genius of Charlie Parker" was the Cole Porter LP (MGV-8007). It stands out as the only LP in the series which is an original first pressing of mainly previously unissued material. It was also his only concept album, even if the project was only partially realized.
Charlie Parker recorded four Cole Porter tracks in March 1954 and another two in December, leaving four more to be done. But before Parker could complete the LP, he died on March 12, 1955. The LP was issued with the six master takes plus three alternate takes.