Charlie Parker (with Dizzy Gillespie): Ko Ko
Ko Ko (aka Ko-Ko, aka KoKo)
Charlie Parker (alto sax)
Best of the Complete Savoy & Dial Studio Recordings (Savoy SVY 17120)
Curly Russell, bass.
Composed by Charlie Parker.
Recorded: New York, November 26, 1945
Rating: 100/100 (learn more)
Portraying a tenorman named Progress Hornsby, ex-musician and cornerstone of 1950s TV comedy Sid Caesar good-naturedly spoofed modern jazz by leading a group consisting of six musicians and a radar operator. Asked what the latter did, Progress explained: "He warns us in case we get too close to the melody!" The joke was apt. The first take of this track had to be whistled to an abrupt halt when Diz & Bird absentmindedly got too close to the melody of "Cherokee," upon which "Ko Ko" (a title nodding to cocaine) was based and royalties for which Savoy Records was loath to pay. The guys got it together for this take, however, capping Bird's first session as leader. Aside from Max's drum break near the end, "Ko Ko" is all Bird. Gillespie plays only on the head, and cup-muted at that, switching to piano to back Parker's dazzling solo, among the most influential in modern jazz. Nobody warned us Bird could soar this close to the Sun.
Reviewer: Alan Kurtz