The Passion of Charlie Parker: New Album Narrates Charlie Parker’s Life in Song

On June 16, Impulse!/Verve will release The Passion of Charlie Parker, an album of iconic Parker songs transformed through the addition of lyrics to create a musical play that narrates Bird's life.
Produced by Larry Klein with lyrics by David Baerwald, the album features actor Jeffrey Wright in the role of Parker as narrator, with vocals provided by Wright, Kurt Elling, Gregory Porter, Madeleine Peyroux, Melody Gardot, Barbara Hannigan, Luciana Souza, and Camille Bertault.

Featured musicians on the album include pianist Craig Taborn, saxophonist Donny McCaslin, guitarist Ben Monder, bassists Larry Grenadier and Scott Colley and drummers Mark Giuliana and Eric Harland.

Larry Klein writes,

With this album I've endeavored to do something new and different in an effort to illustrate who 'Bird' was as an archetypal character, and to draw attention to the huge impact that his work had on Jazz.

…It is really a musical play in the form of an album, or a musical waiting for a libretto. There are several characters in the play, who are the voices through whom the songs are delivered. Three songs are delivered by the great actor Jeffrey Wright, who is the voice of Bird, one is delivered by Kurt Elling who plays a Los Angeles underbelly guide, there are four manifestations of Chan Parker, played by the incredible contemporary classical conductor and soprano Barbara Hannigan, one by Melody Gardot, one by Madeleine Peyroux, and one by Kandace Springs. Gregory Porter is the voice of the young Bird, and Luciana Souza plays a NYC acolyte.

…The musical approach was to pull the Be-Bop spine out from the piece, approaching the music in a modern and conversational manner that is more like what, in my opinion, Bird would be working with if he were alive now and playing these songs.

To preorder the digital version (release date June 16) visit iTunes. To preorder the CD or vinyl version (release date June 30), visit Amazon.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Track List:

1. “Meet Charlie Parker” (“Ornithology”) — Chan's Overture
Featured vocalist Madeleine Peyroux

2. “The Epitaph of Charlie Parker” (“Visa”) — The Funeral
Featured vocalist Barbara Hannigan

3. “Yardbird Suite” (vocal version) — A Genius in His Youth
Featured vocalist Gregory Porter

4. “So Long” (“K.C. Blues”) — Exodus To New York City
Featured vocalist Jeffrey Wright

5. “Every Little Thing” (“Bloomdido”) — The Song of The Acolyte
Featured vocalist Luciana Souza

6. “Central Avenue” (Interlude) — A Dark Journey to Los Angeles

7. “Los Angeles” (“Moose the Mooche”) — The Dealer's Song
Featured vocalist Kurt Elling

8. “Live My Love for You” (“My Little Suede Shoes”) — Chan's Love Song
Featured vocalist Kandace Springs

9. “Fifty Dollars” (“Segment”) — Angels and Demons
Featured vocalist Jeffrey Wright

10. “The King of 52nd Street” (“Scrapple From the Apple”) — Chan's Declaration
Featured vocalist Melody Gardot

11. “Salle Pleyel” (Interlude) — The Journey to Paris

12. “Apres Vous” (“Au Privave”) — The Apotheosis of Charlie Parker
Featured vocalist Camille Bertault