Charlie Parker: In Sweden 1950


Parker was always less inhibited and full of ceaseless invention when recorded live, away from the studio clock, red lights and all other distractions of the recording process. By all accounts he arrived in Sweden in 1950 with little fanfare and few people being aware that he was coming. According to the sleeve notes of this Storyville LP, the locals were more into Woody Herman’s Early Autumn, Miles Davis’s nonet and Stan Getz music than hard-core bop. The wild and noisy applause and audience participation suggests they were soon into the music though when Bird began playing at the Dance Hall in Halsingborg.

These tracks are rightly celebrated as some of Parker’s best improvisations in a live setting even if the sound quality leaves a lot to be desired. The sleeve writer claims that the amateur recorder produced better sound than most on this night although a listen to the later issued three-LP Le Jazz Cool sessions in NYC in 1949/50 might have him taken to task on that.

Prime concern though is the music and Parker sounds on top form flowing effortlessly through versions of “Anthropology”, and “Scrapple From the Apple” before slowing it down for “Embraceable You”. His choruses, both uptempo and ballad, are chock full of invention and a bright clean tone, consistently brilliant from beginning to the last note played. And despite their alleged pre-occupation with cool jazz, the Swedish musicians appear inspired by the master and raise their game accordingly, particularly Rolf Ericson, who has some strong solos. Parker is consistently brilliant in his solos on “Cool Blues” and “Star Eyes”.

Side two offers the music recorded at an all-night jam session that followed the main event and everybody is still playing with invention throughout. Parker’s quotes are inserted seamlessly and his solos flow effortlessly as the trumpeter and Swedish rhythm section back him up enthusiastically. Some trumpet and piano solos have been chopped out due to bad balance but Parker’s solo work is intact and that is the main attraction here. Bass is almost inaudible on the jam session tracks but you can just feel the presence of a bass line.

Highly recommended if you don’t have this music even with inferior sound. The Storyville LPs are presented with the original art work and 180-gram vinyl.

Anthropology; Scrapple From the Apple; Embraceable You; Cool Blues; Star Eyes; All the Things You Are; Strike Up the Band; Body and Soul; Fine and Dandy; How High the Moon (41.00)
Parker (as) with, collectively: Rolf Ericson, Rowland Greenberg (t); Gosta Theselius, Lennart Nillson (p); Thore Jederby (b); Jack Noren (d). Halsingborg, Sweden, 24 November 1950.
Storyville 6017006, vinyl

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charlie-parker-in-sweden-1950"These tracks are rightly celebrated as some of Parker’s best improvisations in a live setting even if the sound quality leaves a lot to be desired"