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Sunday, 18 March 2018

Charlie Parker - The Complete Savoy Sessions Volume 1 (1944-1945)

Side 1:
01. Tiny's Tempo (take 1) - Tiny Grimes Quintette
02. Tiny's Tempo (take 2) - Tiny Grimes Quintette
03. Tiny's Tempo (take 3) - Tiny Grimes Quintette
04. I'll Always Love You Just The Same (take 1) - Tiny Grimes Quintette
05. I'll Always Love You Just The Same (take 2) - Tiny Grimes Quintette
06. Romance Without Finance (take 1) - Tiny Grimes Quintette
07. Romance Without Finance (takes 2 and 3) - Tiny Grimes Quintette

Side 2:
01. Romance Without Finance (takes 4 and 5) - Tiny Grimes Quintette
02. Red Cross (take 1) - Tiny Grimes Quintette
03. Red Cross (take 2) - Tiny Grimes Quintette
04. Billie's Bounce (take 1) - Charlie Parker's Reboppers
05. Billie's Bounce (takes 2 and 3) - Charlie Parker's Reboppers
06. Warming Up A Riff (take 1) - Charlie Parker's Reboppers

Be Bop starts here (sort of)! I posted the first two volumes of  "Charlie Parker - The Complete Savoy Sessions" back in the earliest days of the blog, and here they are again, with new cover and label scans. First up is Volume 1 which covers Charlie's first official small group session - with swing guitarist Tiny Grimes, plus the start of Charlie's second Savoy session featuring his own band which included a young Miles Davis on trumpet and a guest / support appearance by Dizzy Gillespie on piano and trumpet.

The LPs feature the complete sessions including multiple takes and occasionally aborted takes. The post includes information on which of the takes were released as singles. The Grimes session includes two vocal efforts by Tiny, the dreadfully square "I'll Always Love You Just The Same" and the half-heartedly hip "Romance Without Finance." The main interest in this session centres on the swinging instro "Tiny's Tempo" and the Parker composition "Red Cross."

Background to the Savoy Sessions

In 1944 Savoy Records started recording sides by the jazz musicians who jammed in the clubs of Harlem and 52nd Street. Ben Webster, The Count Basie Band (under Earl Warren's name), Lester Young, Hot Lips Page, Pete Brown, Don Byas, Miss Rhapsody and Cozy Cole were among the artists who were recorded. The Hot Lips Page band which recorded a session on September 12th included Earl Bostic, Ike Quebec and guitarist Lloyd "Tiny" Grimes in its lineup. Three days later Tiny Grimes was back leading a small group which had Clyde Hart on piano, Jimmy Butts on bass, Doc West on drums and on alto sax one Charles Parker Esq, late of Kansas City whence he had arrived in the Big Apple with the Jay McShann Orchestra back in January 1942.

When the McShann outfit headed back to K.C. in the summer of '42, Charlie Parker elected to remain in N.Y.C. and play the clubs. At the end of the year he was recruited into the Earl Hines Orchestra at the suggestion of Billy Eckstine and Benny Harris. Also in the band were Sarah Vaughan and Dizzy Gillespie.

In April 1944 Eckstine formed a new band which included Parker, Gillespie, Vaughan, Wardell Gray and Art Blakey. In August 1944 the Eckstine band played a 2 week residency in St Louis where an 18 year old Miles Davis sat in to replace an ill Buddy Anderson. The band then played a week long engagement at the Regal Theatre in Chicago. Charlie Parker quit when the band returned to NYC. Shortly afterwards he was at the Onyx Club in 52nd Street where he worked with Ben Webster. He then appeared at another 52nd Street club, the Three Deuces, in a band which had Howard McGhee on trumpet, Dizzy Gillespie having decided to stick with the Eckstine band.

Just a few doors down 52nd Street from the Three Deuces was the Downbeat Club, where Charlie would drop in to jam with the band led by guitarist Tiny Grimes. On the 14th September Savoy asked Tiny to record a session for them. The following day he turned up with a group which included Charlie Parker. The complete session is on this LP, taking up the whole of Side 1, plus the first three tracks on Side 2.

Five 78 rpm discs were generated from this session. The same takes of each track were used on all of these singles -

Tiny's Tempo (take 3) and I'll Always Love You Just The Same (take 2), were released on Savoy 526.

Romance Without Finance (take 5) and Red Cross (take 2) were released on Savoy 532.

Red Cross (take 2) and Tiny's Tempo (take 3) were released on Savoy 541 credited to Charlie Parker.

I'll Always Love You Just The Same (take 2) and Red Cross (take 2) were released on Savoy 563, credited respectively to Tiny Grimes and Charlie Parker.

Romance Without Finance (take 5) and I'll Always Love You Just The Same (take 2) were released on Savoy 613 credited to Tiny Grimes Quintette.

It would be more than a year before Charlie Parker recorded another Savoy session. This time it would be under his own name. The time between the sessions was a busy one with Charlie involved in recording sessions with inter alia "Clyde Hart's All Stars" (featuring Don Byas) for Continental, Red Norvo, Sarah Vaughan (for Continental) and Sir Charles Thompson's All Stars (including Dexter Gordon) for Apollo. His most important recordings and live appearances were as a member of the small group featuring himself and Dizzy Gillespie. In February 1945 they recorded "Groovin' High," "All The Things You Are" and "Dizzy Atmosphere" for Guild. In May 1945 they recorded "Salt Peanuts," "Shaw 'Nuff," " Hot House" and "Lover Man" (with Sarah Vaughan on vocal) also for Guild. The Gillespie - Parker combo had a residency at the Three Deuces on 52nd Street from March until July 1945.

When the Three Deuces residency finished Dizzy Gillespie formed a big band for a Southern tour. Charlie attended a few rehearsals then split to form his own combo which opened at the Three Deuces in early August. In October the combo was at The Spotlite, also on 52nd Street, with the line up pictured below - Charlie Parker (alto sax), Miles Davis (trumpet), Dexter Gordon (tenor sax), Sir Charles Thompson (piano), Leonard Gaskin (bass) and Stan Levey (drums).

On 26th November Charlie Parker arrived at WOR studios in NYC for his Savoy session where he was accompanied by Miles Davis (trumpet), Argonne Thornton aka Sadik Hakim (piano), Curly Russell (bass), Max Roach (drums) and Dizzy Gillespie (piano, trumpet).

The first 3 takes of "Billie's Bounce" are on this LP, but it would be take 5 (on Volume 2) which would be the released take. Before proceeding to takes 4 and 5 the group improvised on the harmonies of "Cherokee" with what was later named "Warming Up A Riff" which was eventually released on Savoy 945 b/w "Thriving On A Riff" from later in the same session. Volume 2 which will be posted soon has the remainder of this session, including more takes of "Billie's Bounce," "Now's The Time" and "Koko." Stick around for more bop!

Elsewhere on the blog:

Info on Tiny Grimes here:

In the next thrilling episode - "Now's The Time" and "Is This The Way To Camarillo?" Bird and Diz head out West and meet up with Slim Gaillard. Vout-o-roonie!


Don Rocin said...

Be Bop Bliss, This.
What a treasure,Boogiewoody.
Thanks for your great work,

Anonymous said...

wonderful & hilariously fun
at the same time. This thing
about 'forthcoming episode';
just like in Batman series
from sixties. I'm waiting as eagerly
the next jazz as I waited
the next Batman episode
way back then, being a young
kid, late sixties, b&w tv-set.
Thanks for good music and also
about good humour. They are almost
saving the world. At least the evening
of many appreciators of music.
- Jay from North.

boogiewoody said...

Thank heavens someone is actually reading this stuff! Same Bebop time, same Bebop channel ... I'm on tenterhooks.


Bob Mac said...

Holy heart failure, Boogie Woody! Thanks for this, Bird, Tiny & Miles boppin' together sounds good to me.

heylee said...

Thank you for sharing all things, "Bird".