Now’s The Time: The Genius Of Charlie Parker#3, 1957’s Indispensable Cross Section Of Some Of Bird’s Most Immortal Recordings, To Receive Sterling Vinyl Reissue As Part Of The Verve By Request Series With Third Man Records



LOS ANGELES — OCTOBER 20, 2023 — More than a century after his birth, Charlie “Yardbird” Parker is still universally revered as the most groundbreaking saxophonist of all time. And this truth is on full display in the classic set of recordings, Now’s The Time: The Genius of Charlie Parker #3.

Indeed, interest in Bird proves to be undimmed, from jazz cognoscenti and laypersons alike. Because for all his blazing virtuosity, “Bird” was all about melody, and playing the blues — which renders his prodigious body of work, produced in such a short window, wholly accessible. As Bill Simon, the former Associate Music Editor of Billboard, once put it, “It may be a long, long time before the average musician has learned enough of Charlie Parker to take jazz forward from there.”

On December 8Verve Records/UMe and Third Man Records will reissue Charlie Parker’s 1957 collectionNow’s The Time: The Genius of Charlie Parker #3, as part of the Verve By Request series pressed at Third Man Pressing in Detroit, Mich. The record has been mastered from original analog sources by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound. As with all albums in the series, the LP will be available in two audiophile-grade pressings: 180-gram black vinyl and a limited edition 180-gram yellow color vinyl variant. The Third Man Edition, which also includes a two-color, screen-printed jacket on archival French cover stock, custom printed and assembled in Detroit, is available exclusively via Third Man Records and uDiscoverMusic.

Pre-order Now’s The Time: The Genius of Charlie Parker #3 here:

Now’s The Time: The Genius of Charlie Parker #3 is the third in a series of albums expanding on Bird’s 10” Clef releases from the early 1950s. The LP features some of Parker’s purest recordings and strongest playing, featuring two different quartets — including a consortium of bona fide jazz legends: pianists Hank Jones and Al Haig, bassists Percy Heath and Teddy Kotick, and drummer Max Roach.

Throughout, Parker’s lyrical and fluid improvisations on cuts like “The Song Is You” and “Laird Baird” are captured in stunning relief — prime examples of his unmatched genius. As Simon put it in the original liner notes to Now’s The TimeParker dealt in “extensions and alterations of the blues harmonies, unresolved or delayed or anticipated suspensions, often created an effect of polytonality or atonality in his solos.

Rhythmically, even during his most rapid, quicksilver flights, he would shift accents all over the place,” he continued. From strong to weak beat, and between the beats. “He would employ rests, often at the starting point of a chorus, to build tension or effect release, or so that he could come in after the strong beat and set in motion a polyrhythmic ensemble with the drum and bass.”

Kicking off Now’s The Time is “Laird Baird,” named after Parker’s son. A 12-bar blues rendered modernistic, the performance includes a sumptuous bass solo from Heath as well as a fittingly mellifluous solo from Roach. Elsewhere, Bird and company gorgeously interpret the standard “I Remember You,” and tackle the classic Parker original “Confirmation” — perhaps owing to the old workhorse “I Got Rhythm,” charged with the master’s trademark jubilation. But all tracks, including the alternate takes, are worth hearing — as there was no precedent for Bird, and there will never be again.

Since its inaugural release in the fall of 2022, Verve By Request has focused on rare gems and fan-requested jazz albums from the Verve Label Group’s stable of iconic labels. Each hand-picked by Verve and Third Man Records, the records include both long-out-of-print titles from the vault as well as the first-ever vinyl pressings for albums released in the ‘90s and aughts that were only originally released on CD.

Past Verve By Request offerings have been by fellow American musical giants, often of Black American music — from jazzers like Sun Ra, Wayne Shorter, Archie Shepp, Alice Coltrane, and Ahmad Jamal, to leading lights in the realms of soul, R&B and funk, like Mel Brown and Eartha Kitt.

If jazz history can be divided into two epochs — danceable swing and improvisational bebop — then Charlie Parker is the fault line. During his brief but remarkable career, the alto saxophonist nicknamed “Bird” gave jazz lightning tempos, mind-bending chord substitutions, and previously unexplored harmonic depth, paving the way for hard bop, free jazz, fusion and everything after. Miles Davis summed up his accomplishments: “You can tell the history of jazz in four words. Louis Armstrong. Charlie Parker.”

Parker was born in Kansas City, Kansas, in 1920, but “Bird” was arguably born during a jam session at the city’s Reno Club in 1937. Invited to play with Count Basie’s drummer Jo Jones, 16-year-old Parker began a promising solo over George Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm” — and bricked on the chord changes. Jones threw a cymbal that clashed at Parker’s feet; the audience jeered. Instead of giving up the horn, he practiced harder than ever and moved to New York City in 1939 to prove his mettle.

One night that year, Parker woodshedded the Ray Noble song “Cherokee” with the guitarist William “Biddy” Fleet and had a eureka moment. “I’d been getting bored with the stereotyped changes that were being used all the time,” he later told Down Beat. “By using the higher intervals of a chord as a melody line and backing them with appropriately related changes, I could play the thing I’d been hearing. I came alive.” Armed with this new knowledge, Parker composed pieces that went on to be standards, like “Yardbird Suite,” “Chasin’ the Bird” and “Ornithology.”

Parker, who died in 1955 at only 34, was a meteoric musician that burned bright and much too quick. But his legacy more than lives on; it’s jazz scripture. Jack Kerouac called him “as important as Beethoven.” Four of his recordings were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame including albums Charlie Parker With Strings and Jazz At Massey Hall and the songs “Ornithology” and “Billie’s Bounce.” In 1974, he was awarded a posthumous Grammy for Best Performance By A Soloist for “First Recordings.” In 1988, the Clint Eastwood-directed biopic “Bird” brought his story to the silver screen. The U.S. Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp in his honor in 1995.

Although his life and career were short, The New Yorker has praised Parker as “one of the wonders of twentieth-century music” and The New York Times deemed him “matchless” and a “bebop exemplar.” And Parker’s popularity continues to grow. Today, one of his saxophones is on view at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and culture in Washington, D.C. — an enduring reminder that America will always have a “Bird” in its hand.

Side A:
1. The Song Is You
2. Laird Baird
3. Kim
4. Kim (Alternate Take)
5. Cosmic Rays
6. Cosmic Rays (Alternate Take)

Side B:
1. Chi Chi
2. Chi Chi (Alternate Take)
3. Chi Chi (Alternate Take)
4. I Remember You
5. Now’s the Time
6. Confirmation