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Picks and Pans Review: One Night in Washington

updated 05/03/1982 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/03/1982 01:00AM

Charlie Parker with the Orchestra

When jazz saxophonist Parker, at the peak of his talent, walked onstage with a local Washington, D.C. band on Feb. 22, 1953, it was a little like Julius Erving showing up in a church gym and asking to play. Parker didn't know the band's arrangements and would never play with the group after this session, preserved on tape until now by producer Bill Potts. But, using a plastic alto sax he was experimenting with, he chimed in—also under, around, through and, mostly, above the other musicians. His solos and parenthetical comments on such standard tunes as Fine and Dandy, These Foolish Things, Thou Swell and Gerry Mulligan's Roundhouse are typically startling and wonderfully formed. In his too short career—he died of drug-related causes in 1955—Parker was often in better company; he was not often in better form.

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