Charlie Parker’s “Unheard” Notes

Offering 69 tracks, most previously unissued, this new two-disk set is a monumental archeological achievement.

Charlie Parker
Unheard Bird: The Unissued Takes

Courtesy of Verve

There are only a few artists whose every remnant, however slight, deserves hearing. The Beatles, Dylan, Hank Williams and Billie Holiday all qualify, as does Charlie Parker—his gorgeous alto sax sounds as fresh and inventive today as it did more than a half-century ago. Offering 69 tracks, most previously unissued, on two discs, Unheard Bird is a monumental archeological achievement. This dazzling set draws on sessions from the late ’40s and early ’50s and captures Parker in a variety of settings, from small-group dates to Latin excursions to experiments with strings. Along with false starts, incomplete takes and alternate versions of songs like “Night and Day” and “Star Eyes,” this stellar package includes the previously released master recording of each one, which provides a fascinating window into the creative process of a genius. Collaborators include fellow greats Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Oscar Peterson and Freddie Green. Unheard Bird isn’t the place to start discovering Parker, but it’s essential for anyone who already digs his work.