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Charlie Parker session details

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November 22, 1948 (3 items; TT = 13:39)
Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles CA
Acetate (B)

Charlie Parker (as); Al Haig (p); Tommy Potter (b); J.C. Heard (d)

1 Ornithology (C. Parker-B. Harris) 4:14

Parker quotes "The Man on the Flying Trapeze" at 1:14-1:18, and the crowd applauds; he quotes "Show Me the Way to Go Home" at the end of his solo (1:47), again followed by applause
2 Dizzy Atmosphere (D. Gillespie-C. Parker) 5:41

Parker quotes "Kerry Dancers" at 1:05-1:08 and again at 4:39-4:43; both times the crowd does nothing
3 Out of Nowhere (E. Heyman-J.W. Green) 3:44

Potter has a nice one-chorus solo (2:34-3:00) before Parker's closing statement of the theme; he quotes "Kerry Dancers" again (a half-tone higher) at 3:05-3:09

1 Ornithology
12" LP: Verve B0032477
CD: Verve 00602507408459

2 Dizzy Atmosphere
12" LP: Verve B0032477
CD: Verve 00602507408459

3 Out of Nowhere
12" LP: Verve B0032477
CD: Verve 00602507408459

This is an excerpt of a longer performance. It's just Parker and the rhythm section on all three numbers -- these were the Bird features on this date. Also in the band were Howard McGhee, Tommy Turk, Coleman Hawkins, Sonny Criss, and Kenny Hagood. According to Norman Granz, Parker was absent for much of the show and turned up near the end. An anonymous author reviewing the concert for Down Beat was critical of Parker:

Complete disappointment of the evening was the performance -- or non-performance -- of Charlie Parker, who came on late in the session to a screaming stomping ovation and then blew virtually nothing but clinkers and meaningless, disconnected passages that sounded as though they had tumbled from a dream -- almost completely alien to the architectural structure of the compositions attempted... It was hardly the talents of the Charlie Parker of Dizzy Gillespie, Earl Hines, or Jay McShann days. ("Bird a Floperoo: Hawk Still Tops," Down Beat, December 15, 1948, page 7)

Parker does sound lost much of the time. Apparently earlier in the day he got away from his chaperones and when he was found by Teddy Edwards he was in no shape to play. Granz and others did what they could to sober him up, but Parker's performance is definitely off. Mark Toomey wonders whether the themes Parker quotes during his solo on "Ornithology" -- "The Man on the Flying Trapeze" and "Show Me the Way to Go Home" -- indicate that he was perhaps aware of his predicament.

This "Jazz at the Philharmonic" tour ran from early November (November 6 at Carnegie Hall) through early December (December 11 at Mosque Theatre, New Ark NJ). Many of the shows were on the west coast -- Seattle, Portland, Long Beach, San Diego, Los Angeles, Oakland, and San Francisco -- but the tour also stopped in Detroit, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, Kansas City, Chicago, and Pittsburgh.

Thanks to Wasaburo Miura, Chieo Yamada, Leif Bo Petersen, John Griffin, Bruno Leicht, and Mark Toomey for help with this session.

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