Monday, 5 July 2010


Oh my, oh my. Every now and then a CD comes my way that totally exceeds all expectations and just blows me away.
It's a feeling that all record collectors must get, and it's what keeps us going to be honest. If a record collector were to be truthful they would always answer the question "what's your favourite record?" thus; "I don't know - I haven't heard it yet, but I'll keep looking." In a way, you don't want to find the elusive "favourite record" for then the quest is over, and the hunt is most of the fun.
Well. The hunt for my favourite record isn't over, but it came pretty dam close.
 The Charlie Watts Quintet, "From One Charlie..." is perhaps the finest Charlie Parker "tribute" album I have ever heard. In fact it is probably one of the finest Bebop albums I have ever heard.
There is not a single moment of this CD that I don't love. It really is that simple.

A fan since childhood, Charlie Watts always wanted to be Parker's drummer (as he says in the sleeve notes "[he] still does". He lived, as a boy, next door to Dave Green the bass player and they grew up on a diet of Bird, Dizzy and Gerry Mulligan records as well as dreams of going to New York..
In 1960 Watts, practicing to be a graphic designer, produced an illustrated poem "Ode To A High Flying Bird". This was published in 1964.
Thirty years later Charlie was talked into producing a second edition of the book and Pete King stepped in to produce a short "suite" of bop numbers for a quintet to accompany the book.
This then is the CD. Watts on Drums, childhood friend Dave Green on bass, King as composer, leader and alto sax, with Brian Lemon on piano and an 18 year old Gerard Presencer on trumpet.
Only 7 songs. 5 by King and two Parker originals ("Bluebird" and "Relaxing at Camarillo") it charts Bird's career and life from the opening "Practising, Practising, Just Great", via the "with strings" period, the alcoholism and drug addiction, the spells in hospital, and ends with "Going, Going, Going, Gone" that draws heavily on the theme from "Parker's Mood".

Any flaws at all with the CD? Yes. One - it's only 27 minutes long! Still, that means I can listen to it about three times in a row.
I'm away to listen to more bop now....

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