Memorial Day is upon is once again, and so for this edition of Sunday Jazz I’m offering up a pair of wartime-related jazz numbers. They’re billed to Clyde Hart’s All Stars and feature Hart on piano, but the true attractions were jazz immortals Charlie Parker on alto sax and Dizzy Gillespie on trumpet.
Information on the recording sessions varies, but it seems that these tracks were laid down in New York City on January 4, 1945 — just a few months before Hart’s death from tuberculosis. They also feature Rubberlegs Williams on vocals. Listen carefully to his rather loopy performance, which sounds that way for a very strange reason. Seems Rubberlegs helped himself to some of Bird’s coffee, which happened to be laced with Benzedrine. Yup, that explains a few things.
So what’s the Memorial Day connection? The subject matter of these World War II-era songs, “4-F Blues” and “G.I. Blues.” Neither is particularly stunning but are worth hearing for Parker’s ridiculously fluid playing and Gillespie’s raw power and proficiency. The rest of Hart’s All Stars were Trummy Young (trombone and vocals), Don Byas (tenor sax), Mike Bryan (guitar), Al Hall (bass), and Specs Powell (drums).