Charlie Parker: Summertime
Charlie Parker (alto sax)
Charlie Parker with Strings: The Master Takes (Verve 2354)
Mitch Miller (oboe, English horn), Stan Freeman (piano), Bronislaw Gimple, Max Hollander, Milt Lomask (violins), Frank Brieff (viola), Frank Miller (cello), Meyer Rosen (harp).
Composed by George Gershwin & DuBose Heyward. Arranged and conducted by Jimmy Carroll.
Recorded: New York, November 30, 1949
Rating: 70/100 (learn more)
Although Charlie Parker was proud of playing with a string section, this version of "Summertime" shows why the venture was an artistic failure. Using an adaptation of the original orchestral score as background, Parker does little more than ornament the Gershwin melody. The only compelling part of this recording is Parker's acidic tone, which is quite different from the polished sound of opera divas who use the same basic arrangement on "classical pop" albums or in staged versions of Porgy and Bess. Even then, Parker barely holds our interest through this recording. If Parker had used more improvisation on this side (as on his classic version of "Just Friends" also recorded at this session), his version of "Summertime" might rank as one of the greatest. As is, it's just a disappointment.
Reviewer: Thomas Cunniffe