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Discussion Starter #1
I know there's a bunch of tunes Bird wrote based on earlier standards: Ornithology on How High the Moon, Koko on Cherokee, and too many to mention on I Got Rhythm. What else is there?
 

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Also a number of tunes based on "Honysuckle Rose" such as "Scrapple from the Apple", "Au Lev Cha", and "Marmaduke".
 

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Charlie's Wig = When I Grow Too Old To Dream (Sigmund Romberg)

Quasimodo = Embraceable You

Meandering = improvisation on Embraceable You

She Rote = the head is just a quaint little lick over a pedal F but the changes are (approximately) those for Beyond The Blue Horizon (Harry Warren)

The Bird = improvisation on Topsy (Basie band)

Yardbird Suite = Earl Hines' Rosetta. However a rather modernised "cool" version of the changes, as the IV minor 7 chord so prominent in bar 2 of Yardbird Suite is not to be found there in Hines' song (and it wouldn't fit the melody either).

Dewey Square = also a cool Rosetta, with different bridge (Lady Be Good, I think)

Cardboard = Henry Nemo's Don't Take Your Love From Me

Klactoveesedstene = Perdido (with Lady Be Good bridge)

Segment/Diverse = the A part is just minor II - V - I's ... kind of feels like minor key rhythm changes but without the shift to the subdominant in bar 6. Or it's like Topsy without the key change at the end of the first eight.

For what it's worth, Ornithology was written by Benny Harris (allegedly basing the first phrase on a lick he heard Bird play ... but the lick had been around before Bird, I suspect).

And Donna Lee was by Miles. To my ears both of them, though nice tunes and fun to play, sound rather square beside the more fluid phrasing of genuine Parker tunes.

It's a great shame he didn't dream up some more. Loads of jazzmen have written their own tunes over standards and the blues, but Parker's are in a class of their own. Nobody else's come close. Virtually every one is a miniature gem of melodic balance, elegance, rhythmic subtlety, etc. Every blues line he wrote has a different mood. And he built them all out of a fairly restricted bag of melodic bits and pieces. Smart guy.

(Donna Lee was nearly always credited to Bird, even though most musicians knew the truth. Perhaps Miles felt sore about that; maybe that explains why he was so notorious when it came to claiming other people's tunes. As someone said, listening to him play Four; "That's one of the nicest tunes Miles ever stole.")
 

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Well, it definitely sounds like Bird to me. First recorded in '47; I suppose it's possible Bird picked it up off Dexter in California (or NY? - I don't know when Dexter came to NY) earlier that year. They both recorded for Dial at that time. But it seems unlikely to me that Dexter could have produced something so perfectly in Bird's style. His own tunes (e.g. Cheesecake) are rather different. And the title was probably made up by Ross Russell or someone at Dial.

Also, Swedish Schnapps, another Rhythm changes tune, which for some reason has always been credited to Charlie Shavers (a rather odd attribution), sounds completely authentic Bird to me. In fact there even exists a manuscript of it in Parker's handwriting. It was sold (along with a load of stuff Chan Parker had, including Bird's Grafton alto) at Christie's in London about ten years ago.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
If I remember right, Charlie Chan was a pseudonym Charlie Parker used to record while he was still under contract to another label. Is Charlie Shavers an actual person or is it another pseudonym?
 

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No, Charlie Shavers was a real person, a well-known swing-style trumpet player who was in the bands of Lucky Millinder, John Kirby and Tommy Dorsey, among others. He toured with Norman Granz's Jazz at the Philharmonic and appeared in several concerts with Bird. They would have known each other pretty well, I should have thought. In fact, according to Ross Russell, Shavers was one of the pallbearers at Bird's funeral.

Shavers wrote the jazz standard "Undecided" which is very much NOT in a Parker style. Which is partly why I find it very implausible that he wrote "Swedish Schnapps". So how did he get credited? Maybe it was a clerical error at Verve Records? Or maybe Bird wrote it and gave Shavers the copyright for some reason -- perhaps he owed him some money, who knows? But I've never seen or heard this discussed anywhere, I'm just guessing....
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Oh, yes, I seem to remember reading something about giving his songs away to feed his heroine habit. Maybe in "Giant Steps". I can't really cite the source, so take with a grain of salt.
 
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