CHARLIE PARKER
        Machito and His Orchestra

           Recording Date:
              December 20, 1948 tk 1-2
              December 21, 1950 tk 3

              Charlie Parker     AS
              Mario Bauza        TP
              Paquito Davilla    TP
              Bob Woodlen       TP
              Gene Johnson      AS
              Fred Skerritt        AS
              Jose Madera        TS

Leslie Johnakins   VB
Rene Hernandez   P
Roberto Rodriguez B
Luis Miranda         CG
Jose Mangual        BG
Ubaldo Nieto        Tim
Machito                Arr


Review by Steve Coleman
So Mingus considered Parker a composer, a spontaneous composer, and it is apparent from this quote that Bird had the ability to improvise on a variety of structures. We can only imagine what progress would have been made in the area of orchestra music had the great spontaneous composers been given access to the symphony orchestra with all of the colors it presents. However, Bird's melodic structures on this recording of "Mango Mangue" are not really out of the ordinary�for him at least. It is because of the timing and rhythmic sophistication of Parker and the accompanying musicians that I picked this example.
At 0:46 the bongos execute a beautiful rhythmic voice-leading passage (started by the congas), beginning with a setup on the third beat; and then, starting on the following third beat, playing 2 identical patterns that are each contained in 4-beat lengths; then again, starting on the following third beat, playing 2 identical patterns that are each contained in 3-beat lengths. This has the effect of shifting the start of the phrases from the third beat to the second beat, and leading to the first beat at the beginning of Bird's solo. Again this is a demonstration of establishing a pattern, then altering it to rhythmically to voice-lead towards specific target point in time, to either set up another event or to terminate a process.
The shifting diminished harmonies of the saxophones are beautiful, not often heard in American popular music at that time, and it is uncanny how Bird's phrases fit perfectly melodically with the shifting textures from about 1:05 to 1:19 of the song. But what really turned me on to this song is the call-and-response montuno section at 2:11 and how Bird's spontaneous rhythms mesh perfectly with the Cuban players. Passages like this made me realize how often Parker's playing contained clave-like rhythmic patterns, a clear example of African retention.
Based on this musical evidence, I believe that Parker played a larger role in integrating these two musical cultures than he is usually given credit for. Bird is usually given a minor mention when historians talk about the merging of African-American and Afro-Cuban music. However, Machito and Mario Bauzo paint a different picture. Machito has said that Parker was involved with his orchestra of Cuban musicians long before Norman Granz suggested making the recordings in 1948, and even before they met Parker, Machito and Mario Bauz knew of Bird's music, and Bird knew of their music. Machito declared with modesty, "Charlie Parker was a genius, I was nothing compared to him." I also read where Bauzo remarked in an interview that Parker's rhythmic improvisations fit naturally with the rhythms that the Cuban musicians were playing at that time, and that Bird was one of the only musicians from America whose rhythms fit well with theirs. By the way, in this performance Machito's rhythm section is killin'!

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