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JAZZ

NEW LPs, OLD FAVORITES: TATUM, GILLESPIE, PARKER . . .

May 18, 1986|LEONARD FEATHER

"BIRD ON TENOR 1943." Charlie Parker. Stash ST 260. If Charlie Parker were alive today, he might well be spending much of his time in court, trying to prevent records like this from being released. The trouble begins with some cuts recorded in a friend's hotel room, their sound quality so bad that the surface noise virtually competes with the saxophone. On most of these tracks there are no drums, no piano, no bass; one of them even has Parker playing along with a recorded piano solo by Hazel Scott.

Other cuts find Bird in various settings in Hollywood, New York and Oregon, playing tunes that for the most part have been available for many years in properly recorded studio versions. Participants include Gillespie, Miles Davis and Billy Eckstine on trumpets.

Even the title is misleading, since Bird plays alto, not tenor, on eight of the 13 numbers. The cover art is an apparently calculated attempted to simulate the old Verve albums, with a drawing of Parker in the style of David Stone Martin.

The music adds absolutely nothing to my knowledge of Parker's enormous contribution to jazz. Is there no limit to these kinds of ventures?

Two of the musicians who took part in one or other of these sessions, Jimmy Rowles and Red Callender, say that they were not consulted and have not been recompensed for the use of their names and services. Other musicians are deceased, or are simply listed as "unknown."

No stars for anyone connected with this shameless attempt to capitalize on the name of a genius who is not here to defend himself.

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