Mojo (UK)

Various

The Passion Of Charlie Parker DECCA (UMO). CD/DL/LP

- Michael Simmons

A deeply soulful jazz opera about the man called Bird. Vocalese – pairing lyrics with pre-existing jazz instrument­al themes – is a challengin­g art requiring perfect glottal control. Producer Larry Klein assembled top-shelf contempora­ry singers, including Madeleine Peyroux, Gregory Porter, Kurt Elling, Barbara Hannigan, Luciana Souza, Kandace Springs and stand-out Melody Gardot, to tell the story of alto sax legend Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker in this moody, noir-ish audio musical. Top tenorman Donny McCaslin fills the horn chair, wisely avoiding replacing the irreplacea­ble Parker (spoken/ sung by actor Jeffrey Wright) with another alto saxophonis­t. David Baerwald’s words are set to Bird’s compositio­ns, following the latter’s route from Kansas City to New York. The events U-turn, ending not with Parker’s death but with his crowning 1949 Paris debut, beautifull­y recounted in Camille Bertault’s combo of French and non-verbal scatting that ultimately speaks in the global tongue called jazz.

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