Charlie Parker – With Strings
Back in the day, every jazz player wanted strings. Very few warranted it, or could make it work. Charlie Parker was the exception. The music here is simply sublime. “Just Friends” is transportive. Bird’s playing is so fleet, so delicate, and yet so commanding. His problems—and his equipment—often made it challenging to understand what an agile and truly pretty player he could be. Here, his notes are raindrops atop the roof of the music in a beautiful summertime. Simply sublime.
Fats Navarro – The Fats Navarro Collection, 1943-50
As far as collections and reissues go, I don’t actually generally go in for the “all the outtakes” versions … I don’t need to hear the 5 versions of Cherokee that didn’t make the cut.
So this is a refreshing release, to say the least. Fats Navarro only had 7 years of recording before his lifestyle did him in at the tender age of 26. Of those 7 years, 4 of them were spent in New York, where Fats literally just tore the shit out of jazz.
Navarro is what you might call a bridge figure in this great music’s history; he’s a bridge—not unlike Charlie Parker, whom he played with often (more on that below)—between an earlier version of the music, and what would become be-bop.
Unlike Charlie Parker, Navarro could nail it in a large band setting, whereas Parker seemed to really need the small format to fly. Here we have Navarro’s trumpet in all its setting, and his tone, phrasing, and fire are always in pristine evidence.
What a player he was. One of the earliest and greatest trumpet stars of the “new” music.
His last gig, 5 days before he died, was with The Bird.