THE COMPLETE REMASTERED RECORDINGS ON BLACK SAINT & SOUL NOTE is a monographic box-set collection aimed at recounting the most beautiful chapters that revolutionised the history of jazz.
This new series was launched in March 2010 with the simultaneous release of four box-sets, including albums by some of the artists who participated in the success of the outstanding labels. A philological work, beginning with the original recordings on multi-track master tapes, patiently integrally remastered paying strict attention to the sound quality.
It would seem a strange thing compiling the work of Charlie Haden's decade-long Quartet West Group onto a single disc. The reason isn't that they recorded so much material, but more because the material was themed record by record. Yet that is exactly why a compilation like this does work, because this group played music utilizing different aspects of the same theme: to evoke the spirits, ghosts and sprites of a Los Angeles that has moved off the screen of real life into the stuff of myth. That Haden and his group, which included drummer Larance Marable (who replaced Billy Higgins after the group's first, self-titled album in 1986), saxophonist Ernie Watts, and pianist Alan Broadbent could make it all sound so present and real, gives the impression that there was truth in the images. This is not only from a West Coast point of view (though there it is imbued more with the striking visual reveries to accompany the tunes) but also in the popular culture mythos in the collective American mind.
The Savoy imprint, after being acquired by an assortment of companies over the years, has been reinvigorated to celebrate its 60th anniversary. This three-disc set includes all of Parker's work for the Dial and Savoy labels (excluding alternate takes–hence the title). It starts off with his appearance as a sideman with the Tiny Grimes Quintette, at which time the 24-year-old's alto saxophone playing bears his unmistakable stamp of fluidity and daring aplomb. The stellar lights of bebop are heard throughout this set, as Parker plays with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, and Max Roach, creating the enduring shape of contemporary jazz.
Charlie Parker's historic Dial sessions have been reissued in a variety of ways over the years. This is especially true since the advent of the compact disc. These sessions not only capture Parker's alto brillance but highlight his interaction with such jazz stalwarts as Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Duke Jordan, Max Roach, Erroll Garner, Howard McGhee and Dodo Marmarosa. This four-disc set is broken up into Hollywood Sessions 1: Moose the Mooche, Hollywood Sessions 2: Relaxin' at Camarillo, New York Sessions 1: Scrapple from the Apple, and New York Sessions 2: Drifting on a Reed. It's fortunate that these slices of jazz history are available allowing the listener to hear several takes of classics like "Moose the Mooch," "Relaxin at Camarillo," "Scrapple from the Apple," and "Ornithology" take shape. Sound quality on these Stash discs is good for the most part, fair but not great on others.
This set proves two things about Charlie Parker. One, every note he ever played is worth hearing. Yes, the sound is awful and only Bird's solos are recorded, but after nearly 15 years, this set remains one of my favorites. Two, Bird never played the same note twice. There is a series of solos from In the Mood for Love and every one is completely different. This set is highly recommended for all who ever enjoyed hearing Bird play.