Saturday Night Jazz at kj's hideaway

Various Artists: “The Passion Of Charlie Parker” (Impulse, 2017)

National Scene Recordings

I’ll be honest, when I pulled this one out of the padded envelope, I thought: “It’s the answer to a musical question nobody asked.”

Vocalese tributes to instrumental lions are as common in jazz as airplane noise in South Minneapolis, and about as welcome to this Bancroft resident. Many of them are ill-conceived and even more ham-fisted in their execution. There’s a reason Bird didn’t seek out lyrics in most of his work and many of these affairs only reinforce that practice.

But The Passion Of Charlie Parker is batting a strong 750, which is saying a lot. It was produced by Joni Mitchell’s ex-partner in life and music, Larry Klein. This accounts for the presence of a lot of the more polished and poppier fare. In most cases the performances outweigh the lyrical stabs, but that only means it’s pretty listenable.  Kurt Elling and Gregory Porter provide the jazz heft, while Melody Gardot and Kandace Springs give it a sincerity and soul often absent in the massive amount of vocal knock-offs.

Added local connection: Keys from former Twin Citian Craig Taborn.