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