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Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Charlie Parker - The Complete Savoy Sessions Volume 2 (1945)

Side 1:
01. Billie's Bounce (takes 4 and 5) - Charlie Parker's Reboppers
02. Now's The Time (takes 1, 2 and 3) - Charlie Parker's Reboppers
03. Now's The Time (take 4) - Charlie Parker's Reboppers
04. Thriving On A Riff (take 1) - Charlie Parker's Reboppers
05. Thriving On A Riff (takes 2 and 3) - Charlie Parker's Reboppers
06. Meandering - Charlie Parker's Reboppers

Side 2:
01. Koko (takes 1 and 2) - Charlie Parker's Reboppers
02. Dizzy Boogie (take 1) - Slim Gaillard And His Orchestra
03. Dizzy Boogie (take 2) - Slim Gaillard And His Orchestra
04. Flat Foot Floogie (take 1) - Slim Gaillard And His Orchestra
05. Flat Foot Floogie (take 2) - Slim Gaillard And His Orchestra
06. Popity Pop (take 2) - Slim Gaillard And His Orchestra
07. Slim's Jam - Slim Gaillard And His Orchestra

"The Complete Savoy Sessions Volume 2" continues with the rest of the NYC session from the 26th November 1945 which brought Volume 1 to a close. This was the session which gave us "Ko Ko" and "Now's The Time." The latter track would be the unacknowledged basis for the huge R&B hit "The Hucklebuck."

At the end of 1945 Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker took a band to California for an engagement at Billy Berg's nightclub in Hollywood. On December 29th 1945 Bird and Diz joined the resident band at Berg's, the Slim Gaillard Trio, along with Dodo Marmarosa and Jack McVea for a light hearted recording session for the small Bel-Tone label. There were two reworkings of the Gaillard warhorse "Flat Foot Floogie" and an equally mad "Popity Pop (Goes The Motorsickle)." The final track from the session, "Slim's Jam," is a wonderfully relaxed piece of nonsense in which everyone is obviously enjoying themselves.

Alas, for Charlie Parker dark clouds were gathering as his heroin addiction spiraled out of control. "Lowlights" of his stay in California included signing away half of all his royalties to a heroin dealer, selling his return ticket to NYC for money to buy more heroin and thus ending up stranded, and wandering naked through his hotel lobby before setting his room on fire. In August 1946 he was committed to Camarillo State Hospital. But let us return to that "Now's The Time" session ...

So here we are in the WOR Studios, NYC, on the 26th of November 1945 where under the supervision of Teddy Reig, Charlie Parker is recording his first session as leader. With him are 3 members of his regular group - 19 year old Miles Davis on trumpet, Curly Russell on bass and Max Roach on drums. He had also asked Thelonius Monk and then Bud Powell to play piano on the session but neither could make it, so Sadik Hakim was the pianist. Also along was Dizzy Gillespie with whom Charlie had an acrimonious split back in July. That split was the end of the first great bebop group, the Gillespie - Parker combo. Diz formed a short lived big band for a tour of the southern states while Charlie kept a small combo going with Miles Davis coming in on trumpet.

Miles had arrived in New York from St Louis in September 1944, ostensibly to study music at Juilliard, but mainly to contact Bird and Diz with whom he had become acquainted during his brief spell filling in on trumpet with the Billy Eckstine band in St Louis in August 1944. Every night after classes at Juilliard Miles would head for the 52nd Street clubs or else uptown to Minton's in search of the elusive duo, eventually hooking up with them after a few weeks. Soon the young Miles was being invited to join the Minton's jam sessions by Parker and Gillespie. In May 1945 he had his first recording session (with Herbie Fields) and around the same time had a regular nightclub gig on 52nd Street with a group led by Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis.

When Bird was looking for a new trumpet player following the departure of Dizzy in July 1945, he naturally thought of Miles and the new band started playing at the Three Deuces in August. Dizzy returned for the Savoy session on 26th November, prepared to play both piano and trumpet if necessary. It may be that the pair got together again for the session as they had an upcoming gig at Billy Berg's club in Hollywood, Berg having stipulated that the offer was only open to a group which included both Parker and Gillespie.

Miles was aware of his own limitations at this time and felt unable to perform on "Ko Ko", a Parker composition based on "Cherokee" which he always had trouble playing, so Dizzy played trumpet on that track. Here's a summary of who played what on the tracks -

Charlie Parker (alto sax), Curly Russell (bass) and Max Roach (drums) on all tracks. Miles Davis trumpet on "Billie's Bounce," "Now's The Time" and "Thriving On A Riff." Dizzy Gillespie trumpet and piano on "Ko Ko," piano on "Warming Up A Riff," "Billie's Bounce," "Now's The Time" and "Meandering." Argonne Thornton (Sadik Hakim) piano on "Thriving On A Riff."

Single release of tracks:

"Billie's Bounce" / "Now's The Time" on Savoy 573 in February 1946. ("Billie's Bounce" take 5 and "Now's The Time" take 4)

"Ko Ko" was released as the B-Side of "How High The Moon" by the Don Byas Quintette on Savoy 597 in April 1946. ("Ko Ko" take 2)

"Thriving From A Riff" (note title change) was credited to "The Be Bop Boys" and released as the B-Side of "Opus De Bop" by "The Be Bop Boys featuring Stan Getz, tenor sax." ("Thriving On A Riff" take 3)

"Warming Up A Riff" / "Thriving On A Riff" released on Savoy 945. "Warming Up A Riff" credited to "Charlie Parker and the Be Bop Boys." "Thriving On A Riff" credited to "The Be Bop Boys." ("Warming Up A Riff" only take; "Thriving On A Riff" take 3).

"Meandering" first released on LP Savoy MG 12079, "The Charlie Parker Story," in 1956.

The following group, under the leadership of Dizzy Gillespie, headed west to Dreamland to fulfill a near two month engagement at Billy Berg's club in Hollywood: Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet), Charlie Parker (alto sax), Milt Jackson (vibes); Al Haig (piano); Ray Brown (bass) and Stan Levey (drums). They opened on Monday 10th December. On Saturday 29th December the band had a live recording for the AFRS "Jubilee" show scheduled, but earlier in the day Diz and Bird dropped in on a session being held by the resident band at Billy Berg's, the Slim Gaillard Trio. The sides were recorded for a small and short lived Hollywood label called Bel-Tone Records.

Above: Slim, Zutty and Bam at Billy Berg's, 1945

The regular trio of Slim Gaillard (guitar and vocals), Bam Brown (bass) and Zutty Singleton (drums) were joined by Dodo Marmarosa (piano), Jack McVouty (tenor sax and shout of "open up the door, Richard!"), Charlie Yardbird Orooney (alto sax) and Daz McSkivens Vouts Orooney (trumpet).

Original releases:

"Dizzy Boogie" / "Popity Pop" by the Slim Gaillard Orchestra released on Bel-Tone 753 ("Dizzy Boogie" take 2).

"Flat Foot Floogie" / "School Kids Hop" by The Slim Gaillard Orchestra released on Bel-Tone 758 ("Flat Foot Floogie" take 2)

"Slim's Jam" / "Santa Monica Jump" by The Slim Gaillard Orchestra released on Bel-Tone 761.

"Santa Monica Jump" and "School Kids Hop" were from a January 1946 session on which the Slim Gaillard Trio were joined by Howard McGhee, Marshall Royal, Lucky Thompson and Dodo Marmarosa.

Above: Bird at Berg's, 1945

Above: Berg's - Bird strung out, Diz not happy. Camarillo beckons

Recommended reading:

"Bird's Diary - The Life of Charlie Parker 1945 - 1955" by Ken Vail. Castle Communications, 1996.

"Miles - The Autobiography" by Miles Davis with Quincy Troupe.Picador, 2012.

"Bird Lives! - The High Life and Hard Times of Charlie 'Yardbird' Parker" by Ross Russell, Quartet Books, 1976.


Don Rocin said...

This has been a mint review of a milestone work. I really hope you’ve archived your work and bequeath it to music heritage organization because they’ll be fans way into the future appreciating your work.

Bob Mac said...

Many thanks BW for Vol 2. And I agree entirely with Don's comments, there's a goldmine of info/facts/dates/details/rare pics in this blog.

boogiewoody said...

Thanks for the kind comments, guys. I have been thinking of maybe converting some of the posts to pdf and calling it The Be Bop Wino Files!


Anonymous said...

Boogiewoody !
The same be-bop channel and the gracious 2nd episode of Parker.
Thank You so much. Many stories in the world of music are written
in low key. Still, it is very fitting that we may reed how it has been,
while we listen to sounds that changed the world and are able to move
something inside of us over and over again.
Sincerely appreciated !
- Jay from North.