Charlie Parker: Funky Blues


Funky Blues


Charlie Parker (alto sax)


Jam Session (Verve 833564)

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Charlie Parker (alto sax), Charlie Shavers (trumpet), Benny Carter (alto sax), Johnny Hodges (alto sax), Ben Webster (tenor sax), Oscar Peterson (piano), Barney Kessel (guitar), Ray Brown (bass),

Flip Phillips (tenor sax), J.C. Heard (drums)


Composed by Johnny Hodges


Recorded: Hollywood, CA, July 1952


Rating: 96/100 (learn more)

The live jam sessions that Norman Granz produced were usually hit-or-miss affairs. Raucous audiences could encourage some musicians to histrionics, or a lengthy series of solos on an overplayed standard could start to drag, or the rhythm section could be out of sync with the soloist. Granz organized this studio jam session to simulate the format of a Jazz at the Philharmonic concert, with the added benefit, of course, of better sound quality and no distracting crowd noise, and the result was sublime jazz.

"Funky Blues" is one of the more enjoyable tracks of this nature ever recorded by Granz, if only for the fact that acclaimed altoists Hodges, Parker and Carter solo consecutively, and that everyone plays convincingly and infectiously in the blues idiom. Hodges is both biting and tenderly purring. Bird displays an earthy sophistication, with playing remindful of his classic "Parker's Mood." Carter, who follows, sounds astonishingly like Parker, and nearly as modern. Peterson offers rumbling chords and tinkling trills, clearly in his element here. Kessel's steely tone lends a vital authenticity to his bluesy lines. Shavers's extroverted solo, with its repeated upper-register cries, owes a debt to Roy Eldridge. Webster wails with raw-edged intensity. Peterson returns for a bubbly chorus before the ensemble goes back to the head's funky riff, with Hodges getting in the last salient lick of this nearly 14-minute master class in the blues.

Reviewer: Scott Albin

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  • 1 Bird Fan // Jun 07, 2009 at 10:06 AM
    Wonderful !