Here’s a historic TV broadcast of the founding fathers of bebop, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, playing together in 1952. It’s one of only two known sound films of Parker playing–and the only one of him playing live, rather than synching to a prerecorded track.
The performance is from a February 24, 1952 broadcast on the pioneering DuMont Television Network. The full segment begins with a brief ceremony in which Parker and Gillespie receive awards from Down Beat magazine, but the clip above cuts straight to the music: a performance of the bebop standard “Hot House,” composed by Tad Dameron around the harmonic structure of Cole Porter’s “What Is This Thing Called Love?.”
The quintet includes Parker on alto saxophone, Gillespie on trumpet, Sandy Block on bass, Charlie Smith on drums and Dick Hyman on piano.
It was Hyman, who had played with Parker and had his own nightly show on the DuMont network, who helped organize the appearance. In a 2010 interview with JazzWax, Hyman talked about what it was like playing on the show with Parker and Gillespie. “It was together,” he said. “Those guys played with such a good time and feel. It’s a terrific performance considering it was a pop show with just two cameras.”
If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newsletter, please find it here.
If you would like to support the mission of Open Culture, consider making a donation to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us continue providing the best free cultural and educational materials to learners everywhere. You can contribute through PayPal, Patreon, and Venmo (@openculture). Thanks!