jazzfanmn | St Cloud, MN United States | 08/08/2000
(2 out of 5 stars)
"The first thing you need to know about this album, and "Bird at St. Nick's" is they are basically collections of Charlie Parker solos. The fellow who was taping the show, trombonist Jimmy Knepper, was recording in a bootleg fashion, and he turns off the machine after Parker is done playing. This is a problem if you are interested, as I was, in hearing a very young (22)Miles Davis solo or a complete song for that matter. This leaves the listener straining to hear the distant sounds of Miles' trumpet or Tommy Potter's bass. Duke Jordan's piano is nearly inaudible as the mic was almost certainly set up right next to Parker so his transcendant alto and Max Roaches drums drown out most of what does leak through. As a result of the source material the sound quality is marginal at best. So what is one left with? Well, fortunately for the dedicated listener, that is Parker. As the sound crackles fades and swells Bird soars. The folks who remastered the collection of "tracks" did a fine job cleaning up the sound considering its' source, as well as patching together the fragments so that one hardly notices there is anything missing. Fans of Parker should add two stars to the rating because he is in top form problems and all, this was prime time for Parker and nearly everything on record is vital for his diehard fans. Novices should seek out one of the myriad of other collections before coming to this cd."
Impressive despite sound quality.
R Jess | Limerick, Ireland. | 12/03/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Although not a good sound quality recording, 'Bird at 52nd Street does have great historical value giving us some sense of the musical revolutionary times after the war that Parker not only inhabited but helped create. The record opens with the familiar riff of '52nd Street Theme' and unfortunately the poor sound quality means heavy bass hiss throughout. This is followed by the bebop drumming on 'Shaw Nuff' with added hiss quality making the cymbals crash like a Wagner opera. 'Hot House' sounds like a wonderful synthesis of jazz and bebop. Parker's version of 'A Night In Tunisia' swaggers along nonchalantly, giving us the impression that his performance may have been heroin induced. Parker was such an intricate player that when he was blazae about his performance the contrast could be striking.As in 'My Old Flame' where Parker sounds flustered over a plodding blues riff. The most impressive track on the record is 'The Way You Look Tonight' which really drives hard, showing an inventive intensity missing from much of the performance here.
As for the rest of the album, the compilers seem to have made a concerted effort to make the 2nd half sound superior to the 1st. The 2nd version of 'Out Of Nowhere' and the third version of '52nd Street Theme' remain the superior ones here. 'How High The Moon' has the most inventive bass playing, while the improvisation on 'Dizzy Atmosphere' is sprite yet formidable. 'This Time The Dream's On Me' doesn't seem to work in either version."
Sound so bad you'll beg for mercy
Steve Frazier | Seattle | 09/29/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"As other reviewers note, the sound quality of these live recordings are pretty poor, and -- as great as Charlier Parker is on many of these solos -- it's really a chore to sit through them. For the beginning Bird fan, I would start with one of the excellent collections of his Savoy and Dial recordings, move onto his Verve recordings, and then sample some of his better "live" recordings, which are:
- The Town Hall concert with Dizzy Gillsepie
- The Massey Hall recordings, again with Dizzy
- The Complete Savoy Live recordings
"Bird on 52nd Street" should be on your shopping list only if you've tapped out all the other sources of both studio and live Charlier Parker.
Of course, it's Bird, so even horribly recorded, it merits a few stars. But don't torture yourself with this."