Presents Improvisation – 1950

Norman Granz

15 minutes of magic from Charlie Parker, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young and the Jazz At The Philharmonic All-Stars

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In 1950, producer Norman Granz filmed some of the remarkable all-stars who were part of his Jazz At The Philharmonic touring jam sessions.

Charlie Parker, who was only filmed one other time in his career (in 1953 on “Hot House” with Dizzy Gillespie) shares “Ballade” with the immortal tenor-saxophonist Coleman Hawkins and is featured on the uptempo piece “Celebrity” while joined by pianist Hank Jones, bassist Ray Brown and drummer Buddy Rich.

The same rhythm section plays a relaxed ballad “Ad Lib” and then accompanies tenor-saxophonist Lester Young (in top form) and trombonist Bill Harris on “Pennies From Heaven.”

This unique film concludes with Blues For Greasy” which has solos by trumpeter Harry “Sweets” Edison, Lester Young, Bill Harris, and a scatting Ella Fitzgerald (in only her second film appearance) before tenor-saxophonist Flip Phillips brings the proceedings to a swinging climax.

While the audio was prerecorded shortly before the video takes place, this wonderful film is as close as one will ever get to experiencing the excitement of Jazz At The Philharmonic.

-Scott Yanow


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