Charlie Parker: Bird Of Paradise – Best Of The Dial Masters

Some of the saxophonist's finest recordings, key bebop tracks, get the lime-green, 180-gram vinyl treatment from Bird's Nest


As so much of Parker’s work has been released in different iterations, with various versions and numerous compilations, and due to prolific recording during his brief career, it can be tricky for those not familiar with his discography to know where to begin. But it was for Dial Records that Charlie Parker recorded much of his most well-known work, propelling him into the ranks of jazz’s greatest saxophonists, and ultimately, one its most important figures.

The album opens with the sessions from 28 March 1946, produced by Ross Russell, that resulted in the definitive versions of Moose The Mooche, Yardbird Suite, Ornithology and A Night In Tunisia. The following recording, Lover Man, was recorded a few months later on the 29 July, and so drastically had Parker’s health deteriorated he needed to be helped by a doctor in order to be able to record.

Later that night, Parker ended up being arrested and was subsequently sent to a hospital in Camarillo to convalesce, and it was this period that led to the creation of the eighth track on side one, the upbeat Relaxin’ At Camarillo.

The second side is largely made up of the 4 November 1947 session featuring Miles Davis, Duke Jordan, Tommy Potter and Max Roach. Perhaps the best known of these is Scrapple From The Apple, Parker’s own reworking of Fats Waller’s Honeysuckle Rose, in which Parker and Davis play a fast stop-start melody in unison before taking solos.

Bird’s Nest have managed to squeeze 18 tracks onto one 33⅓ LP, which is ambitious, although the audio quality remains good. While many “best of” Parker albums been issued, Bird Of Paradise presents Parker’s essential Dial recordings on a 180-gram lime-green vinyl, and is a great introduction to his music.

Moose The Mooche; Yardbird Suite; Ornithology; A Night In Tunisia; Lover Man; Bird’s Nest’ Cool Blues; Relaxin’ At Camarillo; Dexterity; All The Things You Are; Embraceable You; Bird Feathers; Klact-Oveeseds-Tene; Scrapple From The Apple; My Old Flame; Out Of Nowhere; Don’t Blame Me; How Deep Is The Ocean (54.22)
Parker (as); Miles Davis, Howard McGhee (t); Erroll Garner, Duke Jordan (p); Arv Garrison (g); Red Callender (b); Max Roach, Roy Porter (d) and others. Los Angeles and New York, 1946-47.
Bird’s Nest 840100, vinyl