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Since 1997, he has hosted his own radio show, “The Jim Brickman Show”, which is carried on radio stations throughout the United States.Brickman has also released five PBS specials, and hosts an annual fan cruise or bash. He is founder of Brickhouse Direct, a company that provides strategic marketing and e-commerce solutions for clients in a variety of industries.
Jim’s career has spanned over 25 years.
He has transformed the popularity of solo piano playing his original, pop-style instrumentals and inviting star-studded vocal collaborators to join in. He has since become the most charted Adult Contemporary artist and best selling solo pianist to date.
Instead of listing every album over Jim’s entire career we’ll just start here.
From the founding of The Walt Disney Company in 1923, music has been key to the success of the organization. Both public-domain and original music were used for the initial cartoons, but, since neither Walt Disney nor Roy O. Disney had any music industry experience, the studio had to rely on outside music publishers.In 1928, Walt Disney released the first Mickey Mouse motion picture, Steamboat Willie, which became the first animated short-subject film with sound.
Two other unreleased Mickey Mouse shorts has been previously-produced and were subsequently given soundtracks prior to their eventual premieres. In 1929, Walt Disney and Carl Stalling wrote “Minnie’s Yoo-Hoo”, the first song from the Walt Disney Studios, for Mickey’s Follies. On December 16, 1929, the Disney Film Recording Company, Limited was incorporated as a subsidiary of Walt Disney Productions.
Walt Disney Productions then began licensing out its music with the record company either selecting its own or Disney’s talent to record the music. Until 1936, no one had issued an actual song track recording on disc. RCA‘s HMV label released a selection of Disney short film music in England with the US release a year later. The Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs soundtrack album released by Victor was the first feature film soundtrack. Disney had sold its rights to the Snow White music to Bourne Co. Music as they needed more funds to complete the film.
In addition to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Disney also sold the music publishing rights to Pinocchio and Dumbo to Bourne. To date, all attempts to reacquire the music rights to the three films had failed. After Bambi, the effects of World War II reduced the production of new feature length animation, with Disney either making feature length live films with some animation or themed short film into anthology films like Make Mine Music. The latter films contain the bulk of the more commercial music which was done by recording stars thus released by their record company.
In April 1947, the Walt Disney Music Company (WDMC) was incorporated, with Fred Raphael putting the company together in late 1949 to publish and license songs from Cinderella. Cinderella records appeared in stores along with other merchandise in 1949 before the 1950 release of the movie. The original RCA 78 RPM multi-disc-album release was number 1 on the Billboard magazine pop charts and as a result, Disney Music was moving rapidly into the Big Business category. While WDMC did not produce the records, Raphael did handle the selection, performance and recording.
James Alexander “Jimmy” Johnson, Jr., a fired Disney publicity staff member who wanted to stay at Disney, moved through a series of jobs there in the traffic department, and then accounting. After a stint in the military, he became assistant to the corporate secretary, then handled merchandising issues among other additional duties. With Roy Disney’s split of the merchandising division from Walt Disney Productions, Johnson became head of the merchandising division’s publication department in 1950 and took on managing business affairs for the Walt Disney Music Company.
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Disney’s next push into music came from The Mickey Mouse Club as eight 6-inch 78 RPM records for the show hit shelves the week it premiered on television. Normal 7-inch 45 RPM versions were cut and released later, both through manufacturing partners of the Walt Disney Music Company. After a year, Golden Records and Am-Par Records turned over production of the show’s music back to Disney, leading to the creation of the Disneyland Records label in 1956.
Muddy Waters was the single most important artist to emerge in post-war American blues. A peerless singer, a gifted songwriter, an able guitarist, and leader of one of the strongest bands in the genre (which became a proving ground for a number of musicians who would become legends in their own right), Waters absorbed the influences of rural blues from the Deep South and moved them uptown, injecting his music with a fierce, electric energy and helping pioneer the Chicago Blues style that would come to dominate the music through the 1950s, ‘60s, and ’70s. The depth of Waters‘ influence on rock as well as blues is almost incalculable, and remarkably, he made some of his strongest and most vital recordings in the last five years of his life.
Waters was born McKinley Morganfield, and historians argue about some details of his early life; while he often told reporters he was born in Rolling Fork, Mississippi on April 4, 1915, researchers have uncovered census records and personal documents that would pin the year of his birth at 1913 or 1914, and others have cited the place of his birth as Jug’s Corner, a town in Mississippi’s Issaquena County. What is certain is that Morganfield’s mother died when he just three years old, and from then on he was raised on the Stovall Plantation in Clarksdale, Mississippi by his grandmother, Della Grant. Grant is said to have given young Morganfield the nickname “Muddy” because he liked to play in the mud as a boy, and the name stuck, with “Water” and “Waters” being tacked on a few years later. The rural South was a hotbed for the blues in the ’20s and ‘30s, and young Muddy became entranced with the music when he discovered a neighbor had a phonograph and records by the likes of Blind Lemon Jefferson, Lonnie Johnson, and Tampa Red.
As Muddy became more deeply immersed in the blues, he took up the harmonica; he was performing locally at parties and fish fries by the age of 13, sometimes with guitarist Scott Bohanner, who lived and worked in Stovall. In his early teens, Muddy was introduced to the sound of contemporary Delta blues artists, such as Son House, Robert Johnson, and Charley Patton; their music inspired Waters to switch instruments, and he bought a guitar when he was 17, learning to play in the bottleneck style. Within a few years, he was performing on his own and with a local string band, the Son Simms Four; he also opened a juke joint on the Stovall grounds, where fellow sharecroppers could listen to music, enjoy a drink or a snack, and gamble. Waters became a fixture in Mississippi, performing with the likes of Big Joe Williams and Robert Nighthawk, and in the late summer of 1941, musical archivists Alan Lomax and John Work III arrived in Mississippi with a portable recording rig, eager to document local blues talent for the Library of Congress (it’s said they were hoping to locate Robert Johnson, only to learn he had died three years earlier). Lomax and Work were strongly impressed with Waters, and recorded several sides of him performing in his juke joint; two of the songs were released as a 78, and when Waters received two copies of the single and $20 from Lomax, it encouraged him to seriously consider a professional career. In July 1943, Lomax returned to record more material with Waters; these early sessions with Lomax were collected on the album Down On Stovall’s Plantation in 1966, and a 1994 reissue of the material, The Complete Plantation Recordings, won a Grammy award.
In 1943, Waters decided to pull up stakes and relocate to Chicago, Illinois in hopes of making a living off his music. (He moved to St. Louis for a spell in 1940, but didn’t care for it.) Waters drove a truck and worked at a paper plant by day, and at night struggled to make a name for himself, playing house parties and any bar that would have him. Big Bill Broonzy reached out to Waters and helped him land better gigs; Muddy had recently switched to electric guitar to be better heard in noisy clubs, which added a new power to his cutting slide work. By 1946, Waters had come to the attention of Okeh Records, who took him into the studio to record but chose not to release the results. A session that same year for 20th Century Records resulted in just one tune being issued as the B-side of a James “Sweet Lucy” Carter release, but Waters fared better with Aristocrat Records, a Chicago-based label founded by brothers Leonard and Phil Chess. The Chess Brothers began recording Waters in 1947, and while a few early sides with Sunnyland Slim failed to make an impression, his second single for Aristocrat as a headliner, “I Can’t Be Satisfied” b/w “(I Feel Like) Goin’ Home,” became a significant hit and launched Waters as a star on the Chicago blues scene.
Initially, the Chess Brothers recorded Waters with trusted local musicians (including Earnest “Big” Crawford and Alex Atkins), but for his live work, Waters had recruited a band which included Little Walter on harmonica, Jimmy Rogers on guitar, and Baby Face Leroy Foster on drums (later replaced by Elgin Evans), and in person, Waters and his group earned their reputation as the most powerful blues band in town, with Waters‘ passionate vocals and guitar matched by the force of his combo. By the early ’50s, the Chess Brothers (who had changed the name of their label from Aristocrat to Chess Records in 1950) began using Waters‘ stage band in the studio, and Little Walter in particular became a favorite with blues fans and a superb foil for Waters. Otis Spann joined Waters‘ group on piano in 1953, and he would become the anchor for the band well into the ’60s, after Little Walter and Jimmy Rogers had left to pursue solo careers. In the ’50s, Waters released some of the most powerful and influential music in the history of electric blues, scoring hits with numbers like “Rollin’ and Tumblin,'” “I’m Ready,” “I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man,” “Mannish Boy,” “Trouble No More,” “Got My Mojo Working,” and “I Just Want to Make Love to You” which made him a frequent presence on the R&B charts.
By the end of the ’50s, while Waters was still making fine music, his career was going into a slump. The rise of rock & roll had taken the spotlight away from more traditional blues acts in favor of younger and rowdier acts (ironically, Waters had headlined some of Alan Freed‘s early “Moondog” package shows), and Waters‘ first tour of England in 1958 was poorly received by many U.K. blues fans, who were expecting an acoustic set and were startled by the ferocity of Waters‘ electric guitar. Waters began playing more acoustic music informed by his Mississippi Delta heritage in the years that followed, even issuing an album titled Muddy Waters: Folk Singer in 1964. However, the jolly irony was that British blues fans would soon rekindle interest in Waters and electric Chicago blues; as the rise of the British Invasion made the world aware of the U.K. rock scene, the nascent British blues scene soon followed, and a number of Waters‘ U.K. acolytes became international stars, such as Eric Clapton, John Mayall, Alexis Korner, and a modestly successful London act who named themselves after Muddy‘s 1950 hit “Rollin’ Stone.” While Waters was still leading a fine band that delivered live (and included the likes of Pinetop Perkins on piano and James Cotton on harmonica), Chess Records was moving more toward the rock, soul, and R&B marketplace, and seemed eager to market him to white rock fans, a notion that reached its nadir in 1968 with Electric Mud, in which Waters was paired up with a psychedelic rock band (featuring guitarists Pete Cosey and Phil Upchurch) for rambling and aimless jams on Waters‘ blues classics. 1969’s Fathers and Sons was a more inspired variation on this theme, with Waters playing alongside reverential white blues rockers such as Mike Bloomfield and Paul Butterfield; 1971’s The London Muddy Waters Sessions was less impressive, featuring fine guitar work from Rory Gallagher but uninspired contributions from Steve Winwood, Rick Grech, and Georgie Fame.
Curiously, while Chess Records helped Waters make some of the finest blues records of the ’50s and ‘60s, it was the label’s demise that led to his creative rebirth. In 1969, the Chess Brothers sold the label to General Recorded Tape, and the label went through a long, slow commercial decline, finally folding in 1975. (Waters would become one of several Chess artists who sued the label for unpaid royalties in its later years.) Johnny Winter, a longtime Waters fan, heard the blues legend was without a record deal, and was instrumental in getting Waters signed to Blue Sky Records, a CBS-distributed label that had become his recording home. Winter produced the sessions for Waters‘ first Blue Sky release, and sat in with a band comprised of members of Waters‘ road band (including Bob Margolin and Willie “Big Eyes” Smith) along with James Cotton on harp and Pinetop Perkins on piano. 1977’s Hard Again was a triumph, sounding as raw and forceful as Waters‘ classic Chess sides, with a couple extra decades of experience informing his performances, and it was rightly hailed as one of the finest albums Waters ever made while sparking new interest in his music. (It also earned him a Grammy award for Best Traditional or Ethnic Folk Recording.) Waters also dazzled music fans when he appeared at the Band‘s celebrated farewell concert on Thanksgiving 1976 at the invitation of Levon Helm, who had helped produce one of his last Chess releases, The Muddy Waters Woodstock Album. Muddy delivered a stunning performance of “Mannish Boy” that became one of the highlights of Martin Scorsese‘s 1978 concert film The Last Waltz. Between Hard Again and The Last Waltz, Waters enjoyed a major career boost, and he found himself touring again for large and enthusiastic crowds, sharing stages with the likes of Eric Clapton and the Rolling Stones, and cutting two more well-received albums with Winter as producer, 1978’s I’m Ready and 1981’s King Bee, as well as a solid 1979 concert set, Muddy “Mississippi” Waters Live. Waters‘ health began to fail him in 1982, and his final live appearance came in the fall of that year, when he sang a few songs at an Eric Clapton show in Florida. Waters died quietly of heart failure at his home in Westmont, Illinois on April 30, 1983. Since then, both Chicago and Westmont have named streets in Muddy‘s honor, he’s appeared on a postage stamp, a marker commemorates the site of his childhood home in Clarksdale, and he appeared as a character in the 2008 film Cadillac Records, played by Jeffrey Wright.
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Chester Arthur Burnett (June 10, 1910 – January 10, 1976), known as Howlin’ Wolf, was a Chicago blues singer, guitarist, and harmonica player. Originally from Mississippi, he moved to Chicago in adulthood and became successful, forming a rivalry with fellow bluesman Muddy Waters. With a booming voice and imposing physical presence, he is one of the best-known Chicago blues artists.
The musician and critic Cub Koda noted, “no one could match Howlin’ Wolf for the singular ability to rock the house down to the foundation while simultaneously scaring its patrons out of its wits.] Producer Sam Phillips recalled, “When I heard Howlin’ Wolf, I said, ‘This is for me. This is where the soul of man never dies.'” Several of his songs, including “Smokestack Lightnin'”, “Killing Floor” and “Spoonful”, have become blues and blues rock standards. In 2011, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him number 54 on its list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time” “Poor Boy Blues”, or “Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home”, is a traditional blues song of unknown origin.
As with most traditional blues songs, there is great variation in the melody and lyrical content as performed by different artists. However, there is often a core verse containing some variation of the line “I’m a poor boy a long way from home.” The song is often associated with a slide guitar accompaniment. Gus Cannon recalled hearing a slide guitarist named Alec or Alex Lee in Coahoma County around 1900, playing a version of the song. Cannon himself, under the pseudonym Banjo Joe, later recorded the song.
The song is often cited as one of the oldest in the blues genre. Bo Weavil Jackson (as “Sam Butler”) recorded the song in Chicago in 1926 for Vocalion Records.
Muddy Waters was inarguably one of the greatest and most influential blues musicians who ever lived. Often referred to as the “father of modern Chicago blues”, he took Delta blues and added amplified electric guitars – often backed with electric bass and drums – to create a new sound by arranging everything into a band format. An unrivaled singer of blues and a remarkable songwriter, his recordings and live performances proved to be immensely influential on a number of genres, including rhythm and blues, rock ‘n’ roll, hard rock, jazz, and even folk.
Born “McKinley Morganfield” in Rolling Fork, Mississippi in 1915, he was raised by his grandmother after his mother died shortly following his birth. His nickname came from his childhood habit of mud play on the plantations. Waters developed an early interest in music and started playing harmonica in his early teens. He took up guitar at the age of seventeen and honed his skills under the apprenticeship of famed bluesmen on the southern circuit. His most important mentor was Son House, who taught him about the basics of blues singing, open tunings, and slide guitar.
Career and Musical Achievements:
Muddy Waters started playing guitar at the age of seventeen and made the acquaintance of several famous blues guitarists on the southern circuit within a few years. He relocated to Chicago in 1943 and became a major part of the city’s blues scene with his loud, crude and brash electric sound. His brilliant verbal imagery, sensual lyrics and frantic bottleneck slide guitar work produced hits such as “I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man”, “I Just Want to Make Love to You”, “I’m Ready”, “Got My Mojo Working”, and “Rollin’ Stone”.
Waters is widely credited as the link between the gritty acoustic blues of Robert Johnson and the British rock scene of the 1960s and beyond. He took Delta blues and intensified it by cranking up the volume with electric guitars and amplifiers, while turning it into a band orchestration. Among those who were influenced by his guitar work were Jimi Hendrix, Keith Richards, John Lennon, Jimmy Page, John Lennon, Johnny Winter, Buddy Guy, and countless others. His thick voice and firm, appealing personality defined showmanship techniques of blues.
After going through a roller coaster of career ups and downs, Muddy finally got the recognition he truly deserved in the late 1970s. He drew a whole new generation of fans after his legendary performances at the Newport Jazz Festival and ChicagoFest.
His health began to deteriorate in the early 1980s. Waters died aged 70 from heart failure at his Westmont residence in 1983. His funeral service funeral at Restvale Cemetery was attended by various prominent musicians and thousands of his grief-stricken fans.
Awards and Accolades:
Muddy Waters earned numerous awards and accolades in his lifetime, and has been posthumously awarded many more. A few of them include six Grammys, five Blues Foundation Awards, and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. He has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1987), and into the Blues Hall of Fame (1980).
Muddy Waters was married three times: to Mabel Berry (1932–1935), Geneva Morganfield (1940–1973), and Marva Jean Brooks (1979–1983). He had at least five children.
Written by Willie Dixon and first recored in 1954 by McKinley Morganfield, aka Muddy Waters, the father of Chicago blues.
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I don’t want you to be no slave I don’t want you to wake all day I don’t want you to be true I just want to make love to you I don’t want you to wash my clothes I don’t want you to keep our home I don’t want your money too I just want to make love to you Love to you Love to you Love to you
They tell about the way you Switch and walk Now I can see by the way you Now I can know by the way you Treat your man That I could love you baby until’ the Cryin’ shame I don’t want you to cook my bread I don’t want you to make my bed I don’t want you because I’m sad and blue I just want to make love to you Love to you Love to you Love to you
The song is considered a standard and has been recorded by many artists, especially jazz artists. In 1928, Adele Astaire, who introduced the song on stage the previous year, recorded one of the earliest versions with Bernard Clifton. The most successful recordings in 1928 were however by Frank Crumit and by the Ipana Troubadors.
Charlie Parker (1920–1955) has long been admired as an improviser, but as brilliant as his solo skills were, Parker was also a signiﬁcant jazz composer, an aspect of his musicianship that has not been sufficiently investigated and appreciated. Parker ranks as one of the most important jazz composers of his era by virtue of the quality and continuing popularity of his best-known tunes. Performed widely, they are considered seminal within the jazz repertory. Yet, despite the importance of his contribution, Parker’s approach to composition was casual, and as a result there seem to be no extant working manuscripts that might suggest how Parker composed his pieces.
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This article explores what we can infer about Parker’s compositional process from those instances where he made revisions to improve or (in one case) create the ﬁnal product. In particular, there is one instance of Parker revising a work already completed (“Ornithology”), one instance of Parker combining two pieces by another composer into one of his own (“My Little Suede Shoes”), and two instances of Parker composing in the studio where we can hear his revisions immediately (“Red Cross” and “Blues (Fast)”).
Parker composed at the last minute, usually because he needed material for recording dates. Even more last-minute, there are instances of Parker composing during sessions themselves. For example, bassist Tommy Potter recalls,
On record dates he could compose right on the spot. The A. & R. man would be griping, wanting us to begin. Charlie would say, “It’ll just take a minute,” and he’d write out eight bars, usually just for the trumpet. He could transpose it for his alto without a score. The channel [bridge] of the tune could be ad libbed. The rhythm section was familiar with all the progressions of the tunes which were usually the basis of originals. (Reisner 1962, 183)
The story of the trumpet parts related by Potter is corroborated by the reproduction of two such parts in Parker and Paudras 1981. A photograph on p. 196 shows a trumpet part labeled “Si Si,” which is in fact the tune now called “Blues for Alice,” while on p. 190 we see a photograph as a collage, including a trumpet part whose name is obscured but is the tune now called “Si Si.” The names of the two tunes were probably interchanged when the records were originally produced. Parker and Paudras 1981 also shows us that Parker would indeed write out a part for himself if the tune were complicated enough and composed in advance, for on p. 313 there is a photograph of a manuscript marked “Bird” in the upper left corner.
The manuscript is an alto part to Parker’s “Passport Rhythm,”. Atop the page, in place of a name for the tune, we see what may be “No. 2,” so it may have been the second piece Parker composed for the session.
In the late 1990s, I had the opportunity to photocopy sample Parker autograph manuscripts at the Institute of Jazz Studies and came across two other Parker trumpet parts that were preserved from his recording session of August 8, 1951, the same session that produced “Blues for Alice” and “Si Si.” These parts contain no crossings-out or rewritten passages, and as such tell us virtually nothing about Parker’s compositional process. They may have been copied from prior manuscripts, which would have allowed us to see Parker revising his work on paper, but none of these seem extant, However, they do provide a melody notated by Parker and examples of his music manuscript.
The Library of Congress (L. C.) has an extensive selection of copyright deposits of Parker compositions. Of the four pieces discussed in this article, “Blues (Fast)” is the only one that lacks an L. C. deposit. However, none of the other three is in Parker’s hand, and in fact the total number of L. C. deposits that were copied by Parker is small: only four out of a total of 90 deposits. An example of an L. C. deposit in Parker’s hand appears, in “Bill’s Bounce.” It may be compared to the previous examples of Parker’s manuscript.
Far better known than his manuscripts are stories of Parker composing quickly. One of the most important Parker studio sessions was his ﬁrst as a leader, which took place November 26, 1945 for Savoy Records. Sadik Hakim (Argonne Thornton), a pianist who probably performed at the session, recalls the haste of Parker’s preparation:
I was living in the same apartment with Charlie Parker at that time (it was November 1945). He got a telegram from Savoy in the morning telling him to get a group together and make a recording date. By 10:30 A.M., he had written the two new blues, “Now’s The Time” and “Billie’s Bounce” (actually it should be Billy’s, it was dedicated to Billy Shaw), and for the other two numbers he planned to use a “head” of his those fellows were playing then which was called “Thriving From a Riﬀ” on the record and latercalled “Anthropology,” and ﬁnally “KoKo”—which is based on the chords of“Cherokee,” of course. He asked me if I wanted to play on the date. Naturally I was quite thrilled and honored to be working with him. (Hakim 1959, 11)
So early on in Parker’s maturity, as he achieved leader status, we ﬁnd him composing when he needed material. However, toward the end of his life, rapid composition for a speciﬁc purpose was still the norm. Consider drummer Max Roach’s story of how “Chi Chi” was composed in 1953:
And Bird came by, and I said “Damn!” It was like 3 o’clock in the morning. I lived on 30th Street between 3rd and 2nd Avenues and I had a basement apartment. He’d come by anytime and, of course, I let him in, whatever. He saw me laboring over this goddamn music. He said, “What’ cha doin?” I said “I got a session I’m producing; my ﬁrst, myself, tomorrow.” So he says, “OK here’s a gift.” And this is the truth Phil, he sat down at a little kitchen table and a cheap piano—and I wish I had saved that goddam ’script; I never throw anything away—he wrote oﬀ the tune like a letter and I did it the next day [April 10] with Hank Mobley. We recorded it, then Bird recorded it. That’s “Chi Chi.” (Schaap 1988, 30)
Charles Colin, a music publisher in New York City who later published Parker’s work, attended a Parker session supervised by Norman Granz, Parker’s ﬁnal record producer, and provides us with a memorable account of the proceedings. Note in particular Granz’s frustration at Parker showing up without material:
Charlie Parker’s quintet of sidemen patiently awaited instructions from Charlie. Out of the blue, Charlie Parker announced to Norman Granz: “I don’t have any music and I just can’t remember the chord changes of the bridges. We’ll fake the ﬁrst eight and repeat the second eight bars but remembering the bridge is a big problem.” Frustrated, Norman screamed, “Here we go again! This one tune is gonna take the whole night and way into the next morning! Send a messenger to Colony Music on 48th Street and Broadway for an original copy of the piano sheet music. At least we can lay down the right chord changes.”
This was shockingly exciting for me. I never experienced such a star holding up and delaying an important and expensive recording session. Frustrated, Norman admitted this was nothing new. Evidently this was a common occurrence for him but it was one of the most amazing, heart-beating experiences I’ve ever encountered! The messenger ﬁnally arrived with the sheet music and Charlie created instantaneous head arrangements! His ﬁrst instructions were to have a four drum beat. Charlie would play the ﬁrst eight bars by himself, then repeat the next eight. Then one of the side men would take the next eight repetitive refrains. With this layout, the quintet ran it down for the ﬁrst cut! (Colin 1994, 5–6)
The session described by Colin was not the one that created “Blues (Fast),” a piece discussed later in this article, since the piece in question was based on a popular standard and not blues changes. However, Colin’s observations corroborate Tommy Potter’s and are undoubtedly pertinent to Parker’s sessions in general; that is, since Granz claimed that Parker’s lack of preparation was the norm, Colin’s account may be taken as typical of Granz’s problems in trying to run a small-group Parker session. Also signiﬁcant is the amount of time taken for Parker to create the tune, for “Blues (Fast)” required twelve takes.
Aside from stories of Parker composing at the last minute, just before or during sessions, we have little to go on regarding how Parker may have thought about creating his compositions. The four pieces discussed in this paper vary considerably in their approach (and my treatment of them will vary accordingly), but I have chosen them because they allow us at least to glimpse some of the ways that Parker thought about creating pieces. Before proceeding to them, however, let me conclude this introduction with general remarks on jazz composition to set the stage for the Parker tunes.
A jazz composition is a distinct musical piece by one or more musicians (its “composers”), created for or during a jazz setting, and intended for future performance or realization or later becoming available for such future performance or realization. This accords with the views suggested by some scholars that a musical composition must be “discrete, reproducible, and attributable.” Jazz compositions can be divided into three groups: large-scale works, smaller-scale works intended for improvisation, and directly improvised works.
Larger-scale jazz compositions vary widely in scope, but always seem to show self-contained sections. “Tiger Rag” (LaRocca, 1917), “Carolina Shout” (Johnson, 1917), or “The Pearls” (Morton, 1923) are examples from the early jazz repertory that are small enough to ﬁt the three-minute format of the 78-rpm record, but are nonetheless multi-sectioned works. More ambitious larger-scale works similarly involve multiple sections, and one or more of these might be extensive in scope.
Larger-scale works may also combine elements of the Western concert-music tradition or other musical cultures with features of jazz, and sometimes conductors may be involved in directing the ensembles. Some sections or parts of sections may involve improvisation. Many jazz composers have written large-scale works, for example Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, and Mary Lou Williams. Charlie Parker was interested in this repertory, and he contributed improvisation to the recording of Chico O’Farrill’s Afro-Cuban Jazz Suite, but he did not write such works.
The second type of jazz composition is the smaller-scale work expressly written for improvisation, and it is for this improvisational repertory that Parker composed his more traditional pieces. Works in this repertory are typically in standard song forms and often appear in fakebooks with melodies, chord symbols, and sometimes lyrics. Jazz instructional programs and method books often provide a sampling of such tunes and direct students to learn them, as they are considered fundamental to performing jazz. This improvisational repertory can itself be divided into two groups: popular songs (many of them “standards” of the American Songbook) and jazz tunes (generally understood as tunes written by jazz musicians, usually for improvisation, and sometimes called “heads”).
Popular standards, by their very nature as songs, are more likely to be well known and have lyrics. Long-lived jazz tunes may be called “jazz standards,” a category often used to include those popular standards preferred by jazz musicians. Among the many jazz musicians who have written for this improvisational repertory are some of the best known.
In addition to works written prior to being recorded, Parker also directly improvised pieces that took on a life of their own, issued as recordings with Parker credited as composer. I consider these works to be Parker “compositions,” although they are not compositions as traditionally conceived. The oral component of jazz (and presumably other musical cultures with similar characteristics) urges us to expand the idea of “composition” to account for products of improvisation with sufficient compositional attributes.
Take A of Parker’s recording of Gershwin’s “Embraceable You” (Gershwin-Gershwin, 1930) on October 28, 1947, is a well-known example of his studio recordings. Although the Gershwin piece provides the title to the recording, the signiﬁcant item at hand—what we care about vis-à-vis Parker as a jazz performer—is his interpretation of or improvisation on the pre-existing piece. The recording is a performance not of a Parker composition but rather of a Gershwin song, even though its melody is not expressly stated. The record’s title and excerpts from the original melody, particularly toward the end of the recording, connect the performance to the Gershwin original.
In contrast to Parker’s “Embraceable You,” consider take C of Parker’s recording of “Bird of Paradise” from the same session: the recorded improvisation is based on the form and harmonies of “All the Things You Are” (Kern-Hammerstein, 1939), but not its melody. Mayhew Music Co. and Charlie Parker Music Co. jointly registered a lead sheet of the improvisation with the L. C. (deposit EU659286) on February 23, 1961, as “Bird of Paradise” and credited the piece to Charlie Parker. Therefore, the piece is not only a Parker recording, but also a Parker “composition.”
“Ornithology” is based on the form and harmony of “How High the Moon” (Hamilton-Lewis, 1940). It remains one of the most signiﬁcant compositions of early bebop. Parker sometimes neglected his best tunes, but not “Ornithology,” which he performed consistently through his career. Perhaps the conjunction of “Bird” and “Ornithology” was too tempting to ignore: how could this not be a trademark tune?
We know that Parker memorized Lester Young solos, including the “Shoe Shine Boy” solo. (He reproduced this solo at a jam session recorded in February 1943. Using the same saxophone ﬁngering, Parker plays the tail of what becomes the “Ornithology” idea at the beginning of the “Honey & Body” recording from early 1940. About two and a half years after recording “Honey and Body,” Parker recorded “The Jumpin’ Blues” solo on July 2, 1942, a phrase that combines the beginning of the fragment ﬁrst heard in Young with its tail, ﬁrst heard in “Honey & Body”. Note that the keys are all consistent (concert F), and the “Ornithology” lick is now set in place with the “Jumpin’ Blues” solo. Of course, I am not claiming that the “Ornithology” opening was arrived at methodically through these occurrences, but rather their association is suggestive of the opening taking shape.
About six months after recording “The Jumpin’ Blues,” Parker joined the Earl Hines Orchestra (December 1942). Harris was also a member of the band, and became fascinated with the Parker “Sepian Bounce” solo, as reported in Feather (1977, 26). He probably became aware of the “Jumpin’ Blues” solo at this time as well, as it was recorded at the same session as “Sepian Bounce,” and may have been experimenting with it compositionally. Harris was later performing with Coleman Hawkins, and the latter player may have picked up the “Jumpin’ Blues” lick from him. Later, Hawkins, perhaps continuing to be interested in the lick, used it for the out-chorus of “Hollywood Stampede”, where it is varied accordingly through the circle-of-ﬁfths progression of “Sweet Georgia Brown.”
It was also around this time, the early 1940s, that Harris was frequenting Monroe’s Uptown House and, as we have seen, was fascinated by “How High the Moon.” At some point, Harris may have been inspired to take the “Jumpin’ Blues” lick and apply it to “How High the Moon” changes rather than the “Sweet Georgia Brown” changes heard in “Hollywood Stampede.” However, because “How High the Moon” was being performed in concert G major, Harris needed to change the key, thus transforming the “Jumpin’ Blues” lick in F into the “Ornithology” lick in G. Parker, meanwhile, continued to play variants of the “Jumpin’ Blues” idea in F, as heard in the “Billie’s Bounce” solo of November 26, 1945. When we ﬁrst hear him playing “Ornithology” at the Finale Club in February–March 1946, the beginning of the piece is ﬁnally set. Thus, it’s probable that Parker, if he had a hand in composing the “Ornithology” melody at all, had worked on it with Harris before traveling to Los Angeles in December 1945, and the beginning of the piece may have been determined as early as 1943. The formula that begins “Ornithology” has remarkable precedents, showing Parker’s connection to both Young and the Kansas City jazz scene of the 1930s, as well as its close association with his personal style. Harris probably composed mm. 3–6, but, as pointed out by Sturges 2006, he almost surely wrote mm. 7–8, as these bars appear in a “How High the Moon” solo that Harris recorded in 1945 with Don Byas.
A motive D is bracketed in mm. 4, 6, and 8, consisting of a descending third on the bars’ downbeats, usually with the rhythm of quarter-eighth-eighth. As the tune proceeds from m. 8, motive D continues to appear. The appearance of motive D in Harris’s solo and then in the tune suggests that Harris probably wrote mm. 7–11 as well.
Finally, to complete the tune, the composer(s) needed to work up the remaining ﬁve bars of the form, i.e., the half cadence set up by mm. 12–16 in the ﬁrst half, and (on repeat) the full cadence in mm. 28–32. We hear the ﬁrst attempts at the Finale Club performance of February or March 1946—material that proved unsatisfactory. The cadences to the ﬁrst half may have been partially planned, as Davis and Parker each play the same ascending ﬁgure to D5 before Parker improvises the turnaround. In the second half of the performance of the head, the cadence appears to be improvised before pianist Joe Albany plays repeated Ds to introduce Parker’s solo. (As the recording is a fragment, there is no out-chorus.)
The studio recording of “Ornithology” was made around the same time as the Finale Club performance, on March 28, 1946. The ﬁrst time through the tune, the pianist improvises the turnaround through mm. 15–16. The second time through the tune, in mm. 28–32, the triplet ﬁgure is passed among the players without alteration and with no deﬁnitive cadence. The triplet-ﬁgures themselves are a mystery. They weren’t present at the Finale Club recording, and so perhaps the musicians worked out the idea at the session itself, with Parker’s direction or at least acquiescence. Koch refers to the triplets as “the difficulty in this tune” (1999, 90), while Henriksson calls them “aesthetically unpleasing” (1998, 136).
As Sturges points out (2006, 10–11), the repeating triplet ﬁgure is not idiomatic to bebop style and is eﬀective only if there are several players trading it oﬀ. It’s especially bland with only one player taking the melody.(36)
Nonetheless, the earlier version of the piece with the triplet ﬁgures continues to circulate widely. It appears in the tune’s ﬁrst publication (Parker 1948, 6). Most signiﬁcantly, it continues to appear in The Real Book, Vol. 1 (ca. 1975, 335) and in the popular Charlie Parker Omnibook (Aebersold 1978, 6).(37)
Parker was hospitalized with a mental and physical breakdown after a Dial session on July 29, 1946, and was a patient at Camarillo State Hospital in California until the end of January 1947. As he began performing again, “Ornithology” became part of his standard playlist and can be heard at various Hi-De-Ho Club gigs in Los Angeles in March 1947. In these performances, which were recorded in part by Dean Benedetti, performances of the theme are often cut oﬀ; what fragments of them are heard, however, all feature the triplet version.
Between March 1947 and May 1948, the endings of each half of “Ornithology” were rewritten. These revisions can be ﬁrst heard on a Parker performance made in Washington, D.C. on May 23, 1948. At the presentation of the theme, Parker continues to play the triplets for the ﬁrst half of the tune, while for the second half he plays the revision. On the out-chorus, Parker plays the revised version for each half.
With the changes taken from “How High the Moon,” it’s evident that the harmonic rhythm doubles for the ﬁnal cadence with the tonic arriving at m. 31; this contrasts the one-bar harmonic rhythm that leads to the half cadence. Parker, then, essentially negotiates the chromatically descending chord progression twice as quickly in the second half, and as such the top line F –F–E–E –D descends more precipitately to set up the GM I chord at m. 31.
In the second half, the descent of the piece’s primary line — is clariﬁed by the interweaving of the arpeggiations through the chromatic chord progression. This interweaving places the primary line’s ﬁnal descent squarely on each bar’s downbeat, thus imparting a ﬁnality that obviates a codetta or other extension to conclude the tune (aside, perhaps, from a brief drum ﬁll). The large-scale voice leading that ends the ﬁrst half is less clear, but a Schenkerian – // – – interrupted form may be inferred with the interrupting /V occurring at mm. 15–16.
As mentioned at the beginning of this discussion of “Ornithology,” it is unclear who created the revision that Parker played for the remainder of his career. I would suggest that the precision of the voice leading points to Parker as the reviser of the tune. Increasing that probability considerably is the occurrence of a particular rhythmic ﬁgure in the ﬁrst ending: a four-note pattern bracketed in Example 10a, mm. 13–14, then again in mm. 15–16.
This standard Parker formula is found in many of his compositions. The ﬁrst part of the tune, on the other hand, contains none of the Parker syncopations that are characteristic of his pieces. Certainly, a key improvement Parker brought to the revision is an outstandingly clear voice leading of the melody for the cadence of each half, giving the tune the snappy ending that has helped deﬁne it ever since.