Charlie PARKER – At the Open Door 1953

Charlie PARKER – At the Open Door 1953
Recorded live at the Open Door, New York City, 26. 7. 1953
2000 Issue.

On July 26, 1953, Charlie Parker performed at the Open Door, a club near Washington Square in New York’s Greenwich Village, with trumpeter Benny Harris, pianists Bud Powell and Al Haig, bassist Charles Mingus, and drummer Art Taylor. This was exactly when Jack Kerouac was hanging out at the Open Door, absorbing the sights and sounds and taking notes that would soon form the basis for his novel The Subterraneans. It is possible and even likely that Kerouac was in the audience while these recordings were being made. The aural ambience is literally shaped by the room, the cigarette smoke, the crowd, the intoxicants, and the primitive tape-recording apparatus used to capture these precious moments near the end of Charlie Parker’s brief life. Some solos by others were edited out, but this is no Dean Benedetti hack job; the cuts are relatively discreet, the musicians are inspired, and the listener is made to feel like a patron at a ringside table. What’s really exciting about this anthology is the profound sensation of artistic evolution in progress. During “Scrapple from the Apple” and “Ornithology,” Bird sounds at times a little like Ornette Coleman. Jazz (like all of the arts) was heading directly toward regions of creativity that reflected a refreshing new attitude toward freedom of expression. What Bird was hinting at in 1953 would soon begin to show up on studio recordings by young Cecil Taylor, Charles Mingus, John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, and Sun Ra. Those who cherish and revere the music of Charlie Parker stand a good chance of being profoundly moved by the music captured live at the Open Door and reissued by the Ember label 47 years later.
By arwulf arwulf, All Music Guide.
Charlie “Yardbird” Parker is regarded as one of the unquestioned masters of jazz. Like Ellington and Armstrong, Parker’s talents changed the direction of jazz, and his influence is felt in the 21st Century, over 45 years after his death at age 34.
Since the 1970’s Parker’s recorded legacy has been fairly well preserved, as his studio recordings for Savoy, Dial and Verve have been reissued often, if not always well. His live recordings have also been widely available. Rehearsals, radio air checks and live performances have been issued and reissued in many forms, of sometimes of questionable legality. Fans and fellow musicians were recording Parker even before he had started performing and recording as a solo artist, and fortunately for Parker’s fans, most of those recordings have survived. Very few previously unreleased performances have surfaced in recent years, however, at least until this two CD set was released in 2000.

This was recorded at the New York City’s Open Door jazz club, soon after Parker’s “cabaret card” (an archaic license issued by the police department) was returned to him and he was allowed to perform at New York nightspots for the first time in two years. It was a difficult period for the saxophonist and, although only 33, his health had begun a decline that would end less than two years later.

According to the liner notes, these recordings spent many years in the collection of Parker’s fourth wife, Chan Richardson Parker, then were turned over to Columbia Records in the `70’s. Even Parker collectors did not know of the existence of this recording until recently. I do not know whether this release is legitimate, but any previously unheard Parker is a treat for his hardcore fans.

This release is not really for the casual listener, though. The sound quality is rough, as tape recording was still in its infancy in 1953. Parker is heard clearly throughout, but the rhythm section and occasional trumpet sometimes drift in and our or microphone range. Parker is in good form throughout, and this is one of his better recorded performances from this late stage of his career. After spending two years on the road performing with pickup bands, “Bird”, as his fans and friends called him, is clearly glad to be back in front of a New York crowd,, and he is supported by musicians of similar caliber.

The packaging of this set, though, is deceptive. The running time is listed at either 130 minutes or 1 hour, 30 minutes (its unclear), yet the entire two disc set checks in at under 70 minutes. Given the relatively high price, misrepresenting the time by such a significant amount is inexcusable, and costs it a star. The mediocre sound quality costs it another. Still, Parker fans will certainly want to add this to their collections.
By Ron Frankl.
Charlie Parker- (Alto Sax)
Benny Harris- (Trumpet)
Al Haig, Bud Powell- (Piano)
Charles Mingus- (Bass)
Art Taylor- (Drums)
Cd 1
01. Out of Nowhere (J. Green – E. Heyman) (3:04)
02. Star Eyes (D. Raye – G. DePaul) (3:55)
03. Cool Blues (C. Parker) (4:44)
04. East of the Sun (And West of the Moon) (B. Bowman) (3:26)
05. The Song Is You (J. Kern – O. Hammerstein II) (6:02)
06. My Little Suede Shoes (C. Parker) (2:15)
07. 52nd Street Theme (T. Monk) (2:36)
08. Ornithology (B. Harris – C. Parker) (3:17)
09. Scrapple from the Apple (C. Parker) (3:25)
10. I Cover the Waterfront (J. Green – E. Heyman) (2:26)

Cd 2
01. This Time the Dream’s on Me (H. Arlen – J. Mercer) (4:14)
02. I’ll Remember April (D. Raye – G. DePaul – P. Johnston) (4:13)
03. My Old Flame (A. Johnston – S. Coslow) (4:18)
04. 52nd Street Theme (T. Monk) (2:59)
05. I Remember You (V. Schertzinger – J. Mercer) (3:01)
06. All the Things You Are (J. Kern – O. Hammerstein II) (4:14)
07. Hot House (T. Dameron) (3:17)
08. Just You, Just Me (J. Greer – R. Klages) (2:02)
09. I’ll Remember April (D. Raye – G. DePaul – P. Johnston) (2:36)
10. 52nd Street Theme (T. Monk) (0:35)

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2 Responses to “Charlie PARKER – At the Open Door 1953”

  1. Boy do I love Bird.

    I grabbed this one earlier on the other site, Monk. I found it really interesting and musically brilliant. I have many, many bootlegs in my collection here at home and this one’s fine for early 50s club stuff, great actually, especially given its importance. I love hearing him wail on these later dates on nights like this where he is apparently ‘healthy.’

    1st reviewer is quite right; the future of a lot of the music we all take for granted can be found here.

    I was listening to the Orioles last night and find the same thing to be true there in a very different way of course (R&B, rock&roll, soul music).

    • i never tired of listening the “bird” dave,
      for some reason goes to my soul.
      expecially when i am in a shit mood.simply cools me down.
      if u know what i mean.

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