Sunday, February 16, 2020

Album Review: Charlie Parker- The Savoy 10-Inch LP Collection

Can Charlie Parker be cool again?  On the centennial of his birth in Kansas City, Kansas, Parker is revered within the secluded jazz community but possesses negligible cachet in popular culture.  An exemplary new box set is a welcome step toward restoring Parker’s legacy as a towering American musical revolutionary no less deserving of widespread idolatry than Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain.

Slated for release by Craft Recordings on February 28, The Savoy 10-Inch LP Collection allows listeners to hear the music in the same format in which most people first experienced it.  The sturdy collection may look strange on the shelves of vinyl obsessives, but the four ten-inch vinyl discs will sound entirely at home on their turntables.

The 28 tracks from 1944 to 1948 represent the first of Parker’s three primary recording periods.  Selections including “Now’s the Time,” “Red Cross” and “Confirmation” are among the most provocative sonic missives of the twentieth century.  Stodgy scholars point out that Parker’s collaborations with the likes of Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and Max Roach serve as the foundational material of everything to come in jazz, but the box set provides an opportunity to appreciate the innate intensity and inherent insolence embedded in each subversive track with fresh ears.

The music is tastefully remastered, but the 10” format, labels and sleeves of each disc are exact reproductions of the original Savoy issues.  The box includes a 12-page booklet with liner notes by Neil Tesser.  He rightly links Parker’s innovations with the rebellious work of the hip-hop artists of today.  The veneration of Parker within the jazz community is warranted, but treating his innovations as musty museum music is a deluded misinterpretation of his mission.  Still wild, incendiary and vital in 2020, this music is a timeless invitation to anarchy.  Why should jazz nerds have all the fun?

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

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