Charlie Parker, Sonny Criss, alto saxophone; Flip Phillips, Coleman Hawkins, tenor saxophone; Fats Navarro, trumpet; Tommy Turk, trombone; Hank Jones, piano; Ray Brown, bas; Shelley Mann, drums
Recorded at Carnegie Hall,(which judging by the acoustics was an aircraft hanger in 1948, this Jazz at the Philharmonic was yet another super jam. Norman Granz not only served the Jazz world well, he was also cute enough to know what pleased a crowd. And off they went with the crowd hanging on every riff, every honk and squeal, all of which were generously applauded, nay, demanded. Three years later, and playing to what sounds like the same audience, Dexter Gordon and Wardell Gray jived them to distraction with "The Chase." Yours truly gets sentimental when listening to these recordings. Basically, this is what brought me to Jazz - the excitement, the elation, the sheer joy of those concerts. Nowadays, of course, we are nodding knowingly over a deeply serious "piece" comprising two parts Norwegian icescapes and three parts chamber music. Good, we must move on, but never forget, this is the real stuff. Not for the first time it is Flip Phillips who provides some of the best solos - it happened at another JATP when Lester Young also had a hand in the matter. To be fair, the audience wanted less complex solos than those Parker was laying down, and he was required to vamp a bit to get the crowd response enjoyed by Phillips and Turk, who seemed determined to blow everyone away. Sonny Criss echoes Parker to a great extent, but was not averse to playing to the crowd himself on occasion. None of the musicians were anything less than superstars, with Jones, Brown and Shelley Mann (who was not slow in coming forward) swinging furiously. And then there was Hawk, a man who gives a certain touch of majesty to the whole affair. Fats Navarro comes on with some attempted atmospherics, and not a little class of his own. Hawkins is divine on "Sophisticated Lady" and Navarro quietens the audience with a lovely solo on "The Things We Did Last Summer." Required listening. If you don't already have it, go get it!
by Lawrence Brazier
Jazz Now Interactive
Copyright Jazz Now, November 2002 issue, all rights reserved