The Charlie Parker Story

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The Charlie Parker Story
Charlie Parker's studio album





Label (s) Savoy Records

Format (s)

LP, compact disk

Genre (s)


Title (number)


running time




Ozzie Cadena

Studio (s)

New York City

The Birth of Modern Jazz
The Charlie Parker Story The Complete DIAL Recordings
Charlie Parker, Tommy Potter , Miles Davis, Duke Jordan , Max Roach circa August 1947.
Photograph by William P. Gottlieb .

Album art Charlie Parker Story
External web links to copyrighted content.

The Charlie Parker Story is a jazz album by Charlie "Bird" Parker , recorded in 1945 and released in 1956 by Savoy Records .

The "Koko" session

The record was Charlie Parker's first recording as a leader - guitarist Tiny Grimes was the leader of the “Red Cross” session the year before . As a long-playing record, it was released by Savoy under the misleading title The Charlie Parker Story (it is not, however, a compilation of his years with Savoy Records from 1944 to 1948). Rather, it contains the legendary "Koko" session on November 26, 1945.

On the morning of November 26th, Parker received a telegram asking him to put together a tape for recording that day. He then wrote two blues numbers, " Now's the Time " and " Billie's Bounce ". This first studio session, which Parker chaired, was faced with difficult conditions because of the rush: pianist Thelonious Monk was out, as was Bud Powell ; Sadik Hakim was only able to bring in some of the titles (he also appeared as Argonne Thornton for contractual reasons); Dizzy Gillespie was actually unable to participate for contractual reasons, so that 19-year-old Miles Davis , then a student at the Juilliard School of Music , got a very early chance. As the session progressed, "drugs and girls came into play and everything went haywire."

The following musicians were ultimately involved in the session: Miles Davis, Curly Russell on bass, Max Roach on drums, the pianist Sadik Hakim alias Argonne Thornton, but also Dizzy Gillespie sat temporarily at the piano (as "Hen Gates") and took over the trumpet part “ Koko ” (only when introducing the topic, at the beginning and at the end of the piece).

The recording session began with “ Billie's Bounce ”. Since Parker had problems with his stamina, the ensemble took a break after three takes and played a piece during this time that the recording tape only played later; it was called Warming up a Riff . This was followed by the other takes of " Billie's Bounce "; take 5 finally became the “master take”.

This was followed by four takes of “ Now's the Time ”, this time with Dizzie on the piano. Bird plays the piece with a lot of blues feeling. With Miles Davis you can feel something of his lyrical qualities for the first time, which should only really show itself ten years later. The next track " Thriving on a Riff " is a forerunner of the later Parker classic " Anthropology ". “ Meandering ” is the only ballad of this session.

The highlight of Charlie Parker's first Savoy session, however, is “ Koko ” - the piece that should also give the session its name. It is based on the chords of the " Cherokee " standard . This topic is briefly alluded to in the first (short) take before the take is canceled again. In the following “master take” it is already changed; Parker plays an almost two-minute solo, after a brief saxophone-trumpet unison at the beginning and at the end.

Koko ” is “undoubtedly the zenith of his compositional skills” (Morton / Cook).

The titles

  • 1. Billies' Bounce - new take 1 (2.40)
  • 2. Billies' Bounce - short take 2 (1.40)
  • 3. Billies' Bounce - take (3.05)
  • 4. Warming up a Riff - original take 1 (2.30)
  • 5. Billies' Bounce - new take 4 (2.00)
  • 6. Billies' Bounce - original take 5 (3.05)
  • 7. Now's the Time - short take 1 (0.20)
  • 8. Now's the Time - short take 2 (0.37)
  • 9. Now's the time - take (3.05)
  • 10. Now's the time - take (3.15)
  • 11. Thriving on a reef - new take 1 (3.00)
  • 12. Thriving on a reef - short take 2 (0.20)
  • 13. Thriving on a Riff - original take 3 (3.00)
  • 14. Meandering - new take 1 (3.13)
  • 15. Koko - short take 1 (0.37)
  • 16. Koko - original take 2 (2.54)

All tracks were composed by Charlie Parker, with the exception of " Meandering " (P. David).

Discographic notes

  • The Complete Savoy And Dial Recordings (Savoy, 1944-48)
  • The Charlie Parker Story (Savoy / DENON, 1945)


The record company advertised the LP as “the greatest recording session in the history of modern jazz”. Parker biographer Ross Russell sees it as the "definitive session" that the bop strived for.

On the occasion of the complete edition The Complete Savoy And Dial Studio Recordings (Savoy, 1944-48), Scott Yanow noted that the many alternate takes were particularly valuable in this case because Parker was constantly an improviser: “Each of his utterances is more spontaneous than before worked out. "


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b Hans-Jürgen Schaal (Ed.): Jazz standards. The encyclopedia. 3rd, revised edition. Bärenreiter, Kassel u. a. 2004, ISBN 3-7618-1414-3 , p. 61.
  2. Miles Ahead: Charlie Parker Sessions . November 26, 1945. Retrieved June 19, 2011.
  3. ^ Scott Yanow Jazz on Record - the first 60 years, 1917-1976 , Backbeat books 2003, p. 258