Charlie Parker: Now's the Time


Now’s the Time


Charlie Parker (alto sax)


Charlie Parker/Miles Davis – Birdsong (Savoy Jazz 17180)

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Charlie Parker (alto sax), Miles Davis (trumpet), Dizzy Gillespie (piano), Curly Russell (bass), Max Roach (drums).

Composed by Charlie Parker


Recorded: New York, November 26, 1945


Rating: 98/100 (learn more)

One of my favorite moments teaching musicians at the annual Stanford Jazz Camp was a longstanding workshop tradition: the “Now’s the Time” communal jam. At a preordained time, classes and instruction stopped and all the participants – no matter where they were inside the hallowed halls of the Department of Music – played or sang Parker’s “Now the Time.” I’m not sure whether program founder Jim Nadel saw this as a tribute to Bird, or just a grand joke on everyone else in the music building – probably a bit of both -- but he maintained the peculiar tradition every year. Nadel could not have picked a better song. This timeless riff sounds like a primal blues, as old as the hills. Forcing the students to learn it – which we did, every year -- was an important part of their jazz education. Parker’s recording remains a classic, and his playing here demonstrates that his modernism did not involve a rejection of the past, but rather a return to first principles, which Bird respected in shaping his own novel vocabulary and musical structures.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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