Born on August 29, 1920, American jazz saxophonist and composer Charles Parker, Jr., became a highly influential jazz soloist and leading figure in bringing about bebop before his death on March 12, 1955. Bebop is a form of jazz characterized by fast tempos, fantastic technique and advance harmonies. Parker was a virtuoso who introduced such concepts as rapid passing chords, variants of altered chords and choral substitution. Acquiring the nickname Yardbird early in his career, his tone ranged from sweet and somber to clean and penetrating. His nickname inspired some of his titles including Yardbird Suite, Ornithology, Bird Gets the Worm and Bird of Paradise. During his life, Bird became a cultural icon as an uncompromising artist and intellectual. Not just another entertainer but a symbol for us all to emulate in at least some ways.
In January of 1995, Verve Records released a remarkable compilation album featuring the music of Jazz musician Charlie Parker. Bird’s portion of this had originally been released as two albums in 1950 on the Mercury Records label. What is remarkable about these recording is that these are set in the context of a small classical string section along side a jazz rhythm section rather than his more standard bebop quintet. These were Parker’s most popular sellers during his life and were admitted to the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1988.
Although perhaps sounding a bit aged and therefore quaint, at the time these were recorded the concept of this combination was almost revolutionary in their day. To Aloha Promises Forever, these recordings are and will always be nearly immortal in their stature. To give this work anything less than a 10 out of 10 would be shockingly remiss.
You may listen to Charlie Parker With Strings here: