Charlie Parker Plays with Jazz Greats Coleman Hawkins, Buddy Rich, Lester Young & Ella Fitzgerald (1950)

In a post ear­li­er this year, we show­cased one of the few known sound films of Char­lie Park­er per­form­ing live. Above, we have anoth­er very rare clip, from 1950, with Park­er, young upstart alto, trad­ing lines with vet­er­an tenor Cole­man Hawkins. Bud­dy Rich plays drums, and Hank Jones and Ray Brown play piano and bass.

Park­er looks char­ac­ter­is­ti­cal­ly cool between the dis­tin­guished poise of Hawkins and the boy­ish exu­ber­ance of nat­ur­al band­leader Bud­dy Rich who, in the sec­ond tune, exudes much goofy enthu­si­asm as he destroys the snare drum. This take may be hard bop at its hard­est, which makes Parker’s under­stat­ed con­test with Hawkins all the more vital, pro­pelled by some of the most fre­net­ic rhythms in jazz his­to­ry.

There is much more after the first two takes, as a voiceover seg­ment announces. The rhythm sec­tion gets a lit­tle time, then they’re joined by Bill Har­ris and Lester Young. And then, at 12:18, the already all-star cast gets round­ed out by a scat­ting Ella Fitzger­ald off stage left, leaned over Hank Jones’ piano. This is a hell of a fun per­for­mance to watch, whether you’re a stu­dent of bop, have a music-his­tor­i­cal bent, or just love see­ing live jazz at the top of its game.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Char­lie Park­er Plays with Dizzy Gille­spie in Only Footage Cap­tur­ing the “Bird” in True Live Per­for­mance

Ella Fitzger­ald Sings ‘Sum­mer­time’ by George Gersh­win, Berlin 1968

Miles Davis Plays Music from Kind of Blue Live in 1959, Intro­duc­ing a Com­plete­ly New Style of Jazz

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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