Words can hardly describe the revolutionary effect of these seminal recordings -- collected here on eight full-length CDs, with a comprehensive 93-page booklet with original essays, photos, and detailed discographical information -- when first released. Charlie Parker's vision, spectacular technique, and style helped to transform the world of jazz in the 1940s, and it has never been the same. As with the efforts of creative visionaries, his early innovations were at first resisted by some as too radical, but with time, Bird became universally recognized for the genius he was.
It is impossible to imagine any serious collection of 20th century music not containing at least some of the tracks collected on this splendid compilation. These disks collect all of Parker's studio sessions on Dial and Savoy, the two labels that assiduously chronicled his career during the decade. The set excludes four CDs of live material and most sessions recorded by amateurs, but includes outtakes, Bird's recordings as a sideman, and tracks cut or issued under the Savoy and Dial labels, including the Spotlite, Stash, Guild, Musicraft, Bel-Tone, and the Comet lines.
So many great musicians performed with Bird that part of the thrill is not only the scintillating work of Parker, but also the opportunity to revisit seminal performances by Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, Bud Powell, and a host of others. The sound is, for the most part, remarkably good, making this an indispensable collection for any lover of jazz.
AllMusic Review by Steve Loewy
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