Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The morning jock on WFUV said something inexcusably stupid, so I switched over to WKCR and caught Phil Schaap's "Birdflight". I guess Schaap makes some people crazy, but I think his show is cool-- a good example of the sort of thing public radio used to do, and now really never does. At the moment he is playing all of Charlie Parker's recordings in chronological order, and if the program I heard is any sort of indication he'll be a while at it. This was the second show in the series, and he managed to get up to Parker's fourth official release. Lucky me, that happens to be "Cherokee", the Jay McShann side that announced that something new was happening. Schaap talked about the song for 16 minutes-- he kept announcing the time-- going into detail about when an by whom it was first recorded, the Basie Band recording that preceeded the McShann version ("On which Lester Young-- perhaps inadvertently-- invented the theme from "Bonanza," Schaap said, and sure enough, there it was). After all that, he played the records-- the Ray Noble version, the Basie Band's extended version, and then the Parker record. Bird's solo is about a third of the way in, and even today it sounds like it came from Mars. Completely amazing-- in the middle of this pop jazz number all of a sudden jazz that sounds like the way jazz sounds in the 21st Century came streaming out. Schaap talked a bit about who else was on the date-- Buffalo's own Al Tinney was the piano player, present at the creation.

Maybe 16 minutes of discography is a lot-- you would never hear it on WBFO, for example, but Schaap really knows his stuff, and he owns records that you will never hear elsewhere. It was a pretty great morning on the radio as far as I was concerned.

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