Phil Schaap: Charlie Parker (Pt. 1) - JazzWax

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August 23, 2010


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Thanks for this informative interview with Phil Schaap, Marc. -- There remains one mystery unsolved though which has again something to do with just another one of Bird's cryptic choice of titles: "Warming Up A Riff".

Questions: What "riff" had to get warmed up? Couldn't it rather be they meant "reed", in the sense of warming up a (new) reed?

This one take - rather kinda jam session, meant as a run-through, as a rehearsal on the changes of "Cherokee" - with no introducing theme, and no out-chorus at a medium-up pace, hasn't it been recorded just accidentally?

I may wildly presume here, but I think the recording engineer asked for the title of this track, and just wrote down what he understood acoustically.

Don Jankteur

Thanks for the interview with the great great great Mr Schaap. The reader above, though, is way off base. Couldn't it rather be they meant "riff", like it has been since the day it was recorded? Like Klaktoveedsedsteen - Bird knew what he was saying and intending and all the wildy presuming is just that - wild presumption.

Can't wait for more Schaap -- thanks very much.

Luigi Malerba

"There remains one mystery unsolved"?

Maybe he meant "Warming Up A Rag" or "Warming Up A Roof"?


I may wildly presume here, but I think that some people invent the most unlikely scenarios rather than just accept simple answers and simple truth.

Thanks for the interview with a true New York original.

Bill Kirchner

I just looked at the booklet notes that Jim Patrick and I wrote a decade ago for "Charlie Parker: The Complete Savoy and Dial Studio Recordings". Jim did the Savoys; I did the Dials and others.

I recall reading somewhere that Herman Lubinsky nixed using the melody of "Cherokee" on "KoKo" because he didn't want to pay mechanical royalties. This is not mentioned in Jim's notes. (Jim is one of the foremost Parker authorities; see his Charlie Parker essay in "The Oxford Companion to Jazz".) I don't know how true that assertion is, but it sounds plausible. They could have substituted Max Roach's solo--a remarkably long drum solo (28 bars) on a recording for that time--for some of the time left by the missing melody.


The original title was "Warming Up a Reef" but was cleaned up for the record label. However "Thriving From a Riff" was actually a misprint of "Thriving From a Rift." Recently separated, Parker was enjoying playing the field.



Re:the Cherokee issue. On the Savoy jazz reissue of the complete sessions (ZDS 5500),take 1 of Koko (5853-1) has the Koko intro, but then the theme is Cherokee. Someone (Teddy or Lubinsky) interupts the tune 38 sec in. Bill may be remembering the CD notes to this issue of the sessions.

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of 55 More Songs," "Anatomy of a Song," "Rock Concert: An Oral History" and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax has won three Jazz Journalists Association awards.
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