For Charlie Parker’s birthday week, we check out Bird and Diz playing Tad Dameron’s Hot House.
Saxophonist and composer Charles Parker, Jr. was born on August 29, 1920 in Kansas City, Kansas. During the early ’40s, Parker participated in late-night New York City jam sessions with Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Kenny Clarke and others. The style that they collectively pioneered would become bebop.
Dizzy Gillespie’s contributions to jazz were huge.
One of the greatest jazz trumpeters of all time (some would say the best), Gillespie was such a complex player that his contemporaries ended up copying Miles Davis and Fats Navarro instead, and it was not until Jon Faddis’ emergence in the 1970s that Dizzy’s style was successfully recreated. Arguably Gillespie is remembered, by both critics and fans alike, as one of the greatest jazz trumpeters of all time.
In this 1951 clip, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie perform the Tadd Dameron composition Hot House.
A year earlier, the two recorded a collection of singles with producer Norman Granz, later appearing on 1956’s LP Bird and Diz. Its harmonic structure is identical to Cole Porter’s What Is This Thing Called Love?. The tune was made famous by Dizzy and Parker as a quintet arrangement and become synonymous with those musicians; Hot House became an anthem of the Be-bop movement in American jazz. The most famous and referred to recording of the tune is by Parker and Gillespie on the May 1953 live concert recording entitled Jazz at Massey Hall. The tune continues to be a favorite among jazz musicians and enthusiasts.
The year 1945 was extremely important for Parker. During that time he led his own group in New York and also worked with Gillespie in several ensembles. In December, Parker and Gillespie took their music to Hollywood on a six-week nightclub tour. Parker continued to perform in Los Angeles until June 1946, when he suffered a nervous breakdown and was confined at a state hospital. After his release in January 1947, Parker returned to New York and formed a quintet that performed some of his most famous tunes.
From 1947 to 1951, Parker worked in a number of nightclubs, radio studios, and other venues performing solo or with the accompaniment of other musicians. During this time, he visited Europe where he was cheered by devoted fans and did numerous recordings. March 5, 1955, was Parker’s last public engagement at Birdland, a nightclub in New York that was named in his honor. He died a week later in a friend’s apartment.
It doesn’t get much better than this.
Charlie Parker – alto sax
Dizzy Gillespie – trumpet
Dick Hyman – piano
Sandy Block – bass
Charles Smith – drums