Groovin’ High

I stumbled across this on Youtube and just had to share it. I’ve got this track on an old vinyl LP of Charlie Parker performances recorded live at Birdland, the famous New York jazz club named in his (Bird’s) honour. I don’t think any of the tracks on that album have ever been reissued on CD or for download so I was both surprised and delighted to find this. It was recorded live in 1953, so it’s a bit lo-fi, but what’s particularly interesting is the unusual collection of instruments. Bird is alto sax as usual, but the rest of the band consists of Cornelius Thomas on drums, Bernie McKay on guitar and Milt Buckner on the Hammand Organ. That’s very far from a typical bebop band. Milt Buckner’s organ accompaniment is perhaps an acquired taste but Charlie Parker clearly enjoyed this setting. He plays beautifully throughout, especially during the exciting chase sequence with the drummer near the end. The tune was written by Parker’s old sparring partner Dizzy Gillespie and is based on the chords of Whispering, an old ballad written in 1920. I’m not sure why Dizzy Gillespie decided to hang his tune on that particular harmonic progression, but it’s a thrill to hear Bird racing through the changes in such exhilarating style.

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