Article by Christopher Burnett
I already know what I want for my Christmas present in 2021: “The Mercury & Clef 10-Inch LP Collection” by Charlie Parker.
“I realized by using the high notes of the chords as a melodic line, and by the right harmonic progression, I could play the thing I’d been hearing. I came alive.”— Charlie Parker
BIRD AND THE BLUES
The story is now jazz legend. It has been retold numerous times and quoted in numerous books and countless other articles at this point about music composition, improvisation, and the jazz history of Charlie Parker finding what he was hearing in his head on his horn.
It takes most of us years to understand his words in proper and applicable context of applied usefulness on our instruments because of the way he described the theoretical constructs involved with what he had discovered, then mastered. It seems the role that guitarist William (Biddy) Fleet played in Mr. Parker realizing his unique working understanding of chord progression is sometimes overlooked.
However, Mr. Parker’s practicing and studying with Mr. Fleet undoubtedly helped him understand and develop an applied use of advanced music theory. And it is the back-cycling of secondary dominant root movement at various intervals within each 4-measure phrase of the blues that makes the blues not sound like the common 3-chord blues. But it is. The Bird Blues progression simply gives more note choices to use at strategic points in each phrase.
Ultimately, Charlie Parker discovered a way to play the essence of the blues in the most refreshing way ever. So much so that we still hear it in the improvisational work of every legitimate “jazz” player still to this day. We teach it to our students, if we are a knowledgable improviser ourselves.
CHARLIE PARKER: “The Mercury & Clef 10-Inch LP Collection” — more details and information are available online at CharlieParkerMusic.com
This unique box set is comprised of five classic albums in their original, 10-inch LP format which was originally introduced in the late ’40s and ultimately discontinued in the early ’50s. Listening to the music as remastered by Alex Abrash is arguably among the best sounding audio quality of Charlie Parker recordings available today. This is an extremely high quality and collector edition boxed set of albums that also features “faithful reproductions” of the original David Stone Martin artwork and liner notes on heavy stock.
The musical performances contained in this five album Mercury and Clef 10-inch LP Collection represents some of the greatest bebop ever played by some of the most important musicians of all time at the height of their creative and technical powers. Included inside the collector’s slipcase is a 10” x 10” book featuring exclusive liner notes by Ethan Iverson, an essay by author David Ritz and full track-by-track session notes. First class all the way.
Listen to the digital versions …
… five classic albums
“SOUTH OF THE BORDER”
“BIRD AND DIZ (EXPANDED EDITION)”
“… WITH STRINGS: COMPLETE MASTER TAKES”
“… WITH STRINGS (DELUXE EDITION)”
The Jazz Artistry Now article BIRD AND THE BLUES was written by Christopher Burnett. Mr. Burnett is a professional jazz artist, noted composer, and an award-winning staff writer and reporter who has written columns and feature articles for All About Jazz, newspapers, journals, and military publications over a period of several decades. He is one of our Jazz Artistry Now founding editors and a voting member of the esteemed Jazz Journalists Association.