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Album Spotlight

August 27, 1995|Don Heckman


"Parker's Mood"


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This was a great idea on the face of it: Get three of the '90s' most talented young players--trumpeter Roy Hargrove, bassist Christian McBride and pianist Stephen Scott--together to celebrate the anniversary of Charlie Parker's 75th birthday with a collection of Bird tunes.

But it went awry when the critical decision was made to omit a drummer. The rhythms of be-bop--especially at the time when such Parker classics as "Dexterity," "Yardbird Suite," "Dewey Square" and "Chasin' the Bird" were created--demanded the foundation of a drummer keeping time on his ride cymbal while chattering away on his snare and intermittently dropping bass drum bombs.

Lacking that kind of tensile underpinning, Hargrove, McBride and Scott perform with sensitivity, understanding and affection for the music. But the generally laid-back, understated feel affords little connection with the blend of soaring lyricism and naked passion that were essential elements in Parker's playing.

There are lovely individual moments from Hargrove (on "Dewey Square"), McBride (on "Red Cross") and Scott (on "April in Paris") and a taste of what might have been in the Latin-styled rhythms of "Bongo Beep," the funky rendering of "Star Eyes" and the drive of "Marmaduke." Even here, however, one is too much aware of what is missing and, above all, of how much more appealing this date would have sounded with the inclusion of, say, Carl Allen or Victor Lewis on drums.

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good, recommended), four stars (excellent).

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