Kendra Steiner Editions (Bill Shute)

March 13, 2019

Charlie Parker Records–The Complete Collection (30-CD set, Membran, Germany)

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 7:27 pm


30-CD set reissuing 46 original LP’s on “Charlie Parker Records”

Membran Records box set, Germany, released circa 2012

original LP’s released circa 1961-1965

presently (3/2019), new copies can be found for as little as $40 on Discogs

CP 1This massive, budget-label collection came and went without too much fanfare back in 2012, although jazz discussion lists gave it some attention. On some level, it’s an outrageous collection–who out there was actually clamoring for a 30-CD box set devoted to a label that clogged the cut-out racks of the late 60’s and early 70’s, a label that was devoted to live airchecks of Charlie Parker and Lester Young, and reissues of obscure West Coast jazz sessions, and obscure then-new albums of shadowy provenance?

I was not clamoring for this–how could I have even imagined that any label would issue it!–but I’m certainly happy it’s out, and I wanted to alert you to its existence while it can still be gotten for less than $1.50 a CD.

The “Charlie Parker Records” label was not started by Parker himself, and it did not consist of just Parker music. Parker is featured on all or part of only 15 of the 30 CD’s here (one of which is under Miles Davis’ name). The other 15 are a diverse lot, some of which is not even remotely similar to the kind of music Parker recorded. However, every album IS interesting in one way or another, and for many people (myself included), the label has a special place in their hearts.

The label was started by Parker’s widow Doris and legendary music entrepreneur Aubrey Mayhew, perhaps best known today for the Little Darlin’ label and the incredible series of over-the-top REAL country records he made with Johnny Paycheck, which STILL shock listeners today. Doris Parker wanted to combat the live bootleg LP’s that were coming out of her late husband’s work and worked with music-biz pro Mayhew to make that happen. In that way, it resembles RCA’s starting the all-Elvis ‘Follow That Dream’ label to combat bootlegs….and also the Hendrix family’s “Experience Hendrix” imprint to protect Jimi Hendrix’s memory. Doris Parker passed away in 2000, and Aubrey Mayhew in 2009, so neither can tell the true story of the label at this point. What I can tell you is that in the period of 1970-1974, a dozen or two LP’s on the Charlie Parker label were floating around in the cut-out racks for 99 cents, and they seemed to be recently pressed. It was somewhat similar to the repressings of various Vee-Jay albums one saw in cut-out racks in that same period (in the latter case, a certain former Vee-Jay executive was believed to have had these unauthorized pressings made cheaply and dumped them on to the unregulated secondary market–I got at least 5-6 Jimmy Reed albums, 3 John Lee Hooker albums, and both Beatles albums (with essentially the same material) that way circa 1972). Of course, it’s possible that mint copies of the Parker albums sat in a warehouse for 6-8 years–I wasn’t there, so I don’t know definitively. In any event, as a youngster between the ages of 12-14, when I did not have a lot of money but had a deep hunger for quality jazz, I bought many of the Parker and Lester Young albums on the label, played them zillions of times, and internalized their contents. In fact, I owned the CP label’s Parker and Young albums before I ever owned any studio recordings by either man! And the excitement of these live performances, saved by people recording live broadcast off the air (so-called “airchecks”), got me heavily into both “Bird” and “Prez.” When ESP-Disk issued more live LP’s of Charlie Parker in the mid-70’s, I was totally ready for them because of the Charlie Parker Records discs I’d owned and played for years. I even played them for my parents. I can remember my mother popping her head into the basement, where I listened to records, with a smile on her face, and asking me, “is that The Bird?” Albums such as THE HAPPY BIRD, BIRD IS FREE, and PRES IS BLUE were staples of my junior-high and high-school years!

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Disc: 1
1. Cecil Payne Performing Charlie Parker Music / Cecil Payne – the Connection

Disc: 2
1. Duke Jordan – Les Liaisons Dangereuses / Duke Jordan East and West of Jazz

Disc: 3
1. Mundell Lowe – Satan in High Heels / Yusef Lateef – Lost in Sound

Disc: 4
1. Art Pepper & Marty Paich Quartet / Art Pepper & Shelly Manne – Pepper Manne

Disc: 5
1. Cozy Cole – a Cozy Conception of Carmen / Slide Hampton – the Cloister Suite

Disc: 6
1. Barry Miles – Miles of Genius / Pete Jolly – Pete Jolly Gasses Everybody

Disc: 7
1. Jerri Winters – Winters Again / Alice Darr – I Only Know How to Cry

Disc: 8
1. Ray Barretto & Brock Peters – Mysterious Instinct / Ray Nance, Cat Anderson and the Ellington Alum

Disc: 9
1. Barney Kessel – El Tigre / Various Artists – Best Plucking in Town

Disc: 10
1. Red Norvo – Pretty Is the Only Way to Fly / Teddy Wilson – on Tour with Teddy Wilson and His Trio

Disc: 11
1. Joe Carroll – the Man with a Happy Sound / Ann Williams – First Time Out

Disc: 12
1. Oscar Moore – the Fabulous Oscar Moore Guitar / Various Artists – An Odyssey of Immortal Jazz Perfo

Disc: 13
1. Allen Keller – a New Look at the World / Kevin Gavin – Hey! This Is Kevin Gavin

Disc: 14
1. The Orioles — the Modern Sounds of the Orioles / Beatrice Kay – Having a Party

Disc: 15
1. Miles Davis – Many Miles of Davis / Lester Young – Pres

Disc: 16
1. Lester Young – Just You Just Me / Lester Young – Pres Is Blue

Disc: 17
1. Charlie Parker – Bird Is Free

Disc: 18
1. Charlie Parker – Happy Bird

Disc: 19
1. Charlie Parker – Bird Symbols

Disc: 20
1. Charlie Parker – Live at Rockland Palace

Disc: 21
1. Charlie Parker – Bird at the Apollo

Disc: 22
1. Charlie Parker – West Coast Time

Disc: 23
1. Charlie Parker – Birdology

Disc: 24
1. Charlie Parker – Fragments

Disc: 25
1. Charlie Parker – Parker Plus Strings

Disc: 26
1. The Charlie Parker All Stars

Disc: 27
1. Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker Performing Historical Masterpieces LP1

Disc: 28
1. Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker Performing Historical Materpieces LP2

Disc: 29
1. Charlie “Bird” Parker Performing Historical Masterpieces LP3

Disc: 30
1. Charlie Parker – Lester Young –A Historical Meeting at the Summit

And what an odd collection of material one finds on these 30 CD’s. Of course, the 16 CD’s of Charlie Parker/Lester Young live broadcasts (the album included in CD 15 under Miles Davis’ name is Davis in Parker’s band, so it’s essentially a Parker album) are well worth the price of admission even if you never listened to any of the other discs, but actually there’s a goldmine of fine jazz here…some above average lounge-jazz vocals…and some oddities that are at least enjoyable.

First, you get newly recorded NY sessions from heavy-weights such as pianist Duke Jordan, baritone saxophonist Cecil Payne, multi-instrumentalist Yusef Lateef, and trombonist Slide Hampton….along with an album by Ellington sidemen such as Cat Anderson and Ray Nance. Then you get first-rate west-coast sessions recorded in the 40’s for Atlas (with Oscar Moore, of the Nat Cole Trio) and the 50’s for Tampa (with Art Pepper), labels run by producer Robert Scherman, who must have made some kind of deal with Mayhew.

There are also newly recorded albums of various lounge-jazz vocalists (Beatrice Kay, Ann Williams, Kevin Gavin, Joe Carroll, Jerri Winters, and Alice Darr), an exotica album by percussionist Ray Barretto and actor-singer Brock Peters, new recordings by a version of the proto-doowop vocal group The Orioles, an album by a young drum prodigy (Barry Miles) who wants to play as busily as Buddy Rich, the soundtrack by Mundell Lowe for the legendary cult film SATAN IN HIGH HEELS (probably the best-known album on the label other than the Parker and Young ones), a live album of obscure provenance of the TEDDY WILSON TRIO (which, to put it tactfully, was not of the level of professionalism in recording as the albums Wilson did on Verve just prior this), and an adaptation of ‘Carmen’ by drummer COZY COLE (of TOPSY fame). There were also a few compilation albums containing material which could be found on other CP albums, along with tracks from the same sessions not on the albums.

I’m not sure what prompted this German budget label to put together a box-set of the complete albums on Charlie Parker Records (and for those who care about sound quality, of course these are needle-drops….would you expect otherwise!), but I’m certainly glad they did. I’ve never seen an actual physical copy of 10 or 12 of the albums, and I’ve never owned a good 60% of them in any form (I had the Art Pepper albums on other labels).

If you are at all intrigued by the description and album listing above, then you should probably find a cheap copy of this on Amazon or at Discogs (it used to be seen at Half-Price Books stores here in Texas, and maybe it’s on their website at a competitive price, maybe not) and you won’t be disappointed. You can play a new CD every day for a month for about $1.25 a day–and about 70% of it is first-rate by any standard (nothing on it is bad). I’ve certainly been loving my copy for the last seven years since it came out.

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1 Comment »

  1. Another good one!

    Comment by Christopher Stigliano — March 14, 2019 @ 6:01 am | Reply

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