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Charlie Parker

Verve

Charlie Parker’s brief flirtation with a small string ensemble added more wood to the pyre of controversy that surrounded both the saxophonist and the style that came to be labeled “bebop.” Parker’s readings of standards like “April in Paris” and John Klenner’s “Just Friends” were seen by critics and fans as a sellout—which is more than a little ironic, since many of the performances collected on The Master Takes: Charlie Parker With Strings contain some of the great altoist’s most dazzling work. The string arrangements here are often stilted and mawkish, but those qualities further highlight the leader’s brilliance. Parker’s tender interpretations of “Everything Happens to Me” and “Paris” are particularly striking. The folks at Verve have even included the stirring recording of Rodgers and Hart’s “Lover,” on which Parker soars around what sounds like an energetic Broadway musical pit band, devouring the composition’s chord changes the way a great running back relishes an open expanse of field.