Bird Up: The Charlie Parker Remix Project
label: Savoy Jazz
our score: 2.0 out of 5.0
My low grade for this disc is not based on some
kind of purist crap like that. Sure, my eyebrows almost shot up
offa my head when I heard about this, but they returned soon enough;
hey, why the hell not turn over the master tapes of the most important
saxophone player EVER to a bunch of different modern musicians
and let them mess around with them? Y'know, if it' s done right.
Well, dammit, it ISN'T done right. Not here. Not
most of the time, anyway. Things get off to an ugly start with
Red Hawk' s version of " Now' s the Time" (now called,
cleverly, "The Time is Now" ). This is just an unambitious
untuneful uninteresting waste of time, the original riffs with
a dull-ass thump superimposed over it, and a duller-ass mumbly
chant superimposed over that, and a boringly duller-ass soprano
sax solo over that. Who is this Red Hawk? Who is sax
player Deke Damascus? I DON' T CARE. I hope I don' t have to hear
any more of this stuff.
Another offender with a bigger name attached:
System of a Down' s Serj Tankian. What this guy does to "Bird
of Paradise" is criminal, horrible, and a bunch of other
words I'm too mad to look up in a thesaurus. He caterwauls tunelessly,
he makes it into a ranty spoken-word piece, he obscures the pretty
melody, he does everything you could think of to ruin a song.
I actually didn' t hate System of a Down until right now.
Who else do I hate here? Well, there's someone
called Donk, who gets a couple of tracks to ruin, and does a good
job of that: "Congo Blues" is the most needlessly complicated
sludge on the disc, and the new version of "A Night in Tunisia"
(called "Downpour" ) is only slightly better, because
of the actual Charlie Parker sax break at the 1:32 mark. And El-P
applies his traditional sledgehammer murk to the closing track,
with no good ensuing, but at least he' s trying to do something
different. Better to go out on your sword.
There is some good stuff here: Hal Willner's group
Whoops I' m an Indian fails to suck on their two tracks, which
is impressive considering their ambition; Choco and the RZA (here
called ZigZagZig) do a credible hip-bop fusion; the cool strut
that Dan the Automator does on his two tracks is very impressive;
and I am digging very much the stuff Me'shell Ndengécello
is doing right here with her tune "August 29."
But the best thing on the disc BY FAR is turned
in by The X-ecutioners. Rob Swift, who has got to be the finest
turntablist of all time, has arranged Bird' s song "Cheers"
into a group piece for his four-man scratching crew, wherein they
scratch every single note of every single solo. Perfectly.
I' m not kidding; it's inspiring and weird and fun and historical
and modern all at the same time. This is the only reason this
disc is getting two stars instead of one from me.
And the producers better be glad that I don' t review liner notes, because what Touré does here is a hype job and a damned shame. Dude: you' re a good writer, seriously; stop with the hack for-hire jobs already!
So yeah, ick. Don' t waste your time here. Someday someone will do this better, but today is not that day.
12-Feb-2004 10:46 PM
liked Birld Up...
1. Now's the Time (No Time Like Now) - Redhawk
2. Rlaxin' at Camarillo - Me'shell Ndegeocello
3. Salt Peanuts (The Mr. Peanut Chronicles) - Hal Wilner's Whoops I'm An Indian
4. Bird of Paradise (Gone) - Serj Tankian
5. Congo Blues (Silencer) - Donk
6. Bebop (Live at Rooftop) - The RZA
7. Steeplechase (Sittin' on 22's) - Dan the Automator
8. Cheers (X-ecutioners Style) - Rob Swift
9. A Night in Tunisia (Downpour) - Donk
10. All the Shadows of Nuff - Hal Wilner's Whoops I'm an Indian
11. Perhaps (Someday the Roof Will Get Fixed) - Dan the Automator
12. Barbados (Where Fish Fly) - Hubert Laws
13. Constellation (Heavenly Bodies) - El-P