Charlie Parker - Charlie Parker (1954), 6/10

Charlie Parker’s self-titled album, more of an EP considering its twenty-four-minute runtime and ten-inch record release, consists of eight tracks that show everything he could do on the first four and a consistently unmoving second half. His playing is exceptional, his compositions just as impressive, and the rest of the band accents his playing quite well, particularly Max Roach’s percussion and Al Haig’s keys elevate some songs to occupy a much more interesting space than they otherwise should. The highlight of the record comes early with “Remember You” both from an execution and a compositional perspective. The two sides are stylistically similar in the sense that they adhere strictly to bebop, yet the first is infused with intentional songwriting and flawless musicianship, whereas the second four tracks are intermittently interrupted by less-than-perfect playing passages and a general lack of compositional ingenuity, closing with the weakest of the bunch. Still, this short album progresses rather quickly and is still one of the stronger efforts of the mid-fifties in the realm of true bebop. While the record as a whole does not accomplish anything truly extraordinary by modern standards and would quickly be outshined by more adventurous jazz albums in the mid to late fifties, there are some moments that make it more than worthwhile as a listening experience, namely for Charlie Parker’s ability to communicate genuine feeling and to write timeless melodies. Worthwhile and memorable for four genuinely great songs with outstanding execution in sound, structure, and emotive power.