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Jose Reyes

The famous “Jazz at Massey Hall” concert

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It is known to many Jazz fans as the “Greatest Jazz Concert Ever,” true or false, you be the judge. It took place on May 15, 1953. at Toronto’s Massey Hall. “The Quintet” as they were nicknamed, consisted of Jazz legends Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Charles Mingus, and Max Roach. If by some chance you are confused by the name “Charlie Chan” on the album cover, that’s actually Charlie Parker. He had to substitute his last name with “Chan” on the credits because he was bound by a recording contract with Mercury Records.

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A concert of this magnitude can create a sort of fixating effect on the listener because of the musicians involved, that’s for sure but more on Jazz fans with less amount of listening hours. The hard-core Jazz aficionados are not as easy to convince, in respect to the “coined” phrase associated the performance, “The Greatest Jazz Concert.” Their ears have had the pleasure of listening to many other, so called “Out of this world” performances. Best or not the best, it doesn’t really matter. More important than everything is that it was physically recorded. That’s a great historical achievement! Actually, it is precious! For this reason now, anybody can purchase and enjoy it! Charles Mingus had a big hand in the remastering process, he had possession of the original recording itself. It was done afterwards when he and Max Roach established Candid Records in 1960. ENJOY!

Note: Marc Myers (Jazz Wax Blog) has a great eyewitness account from someone who was actually there, very interesting!

Note 2: Read more about the saxophone which “Bird” played on throughout the concert> Learn about, the “Grafton” here.

Note 3: Here’s an interesting 60th anniversary review of this historical concert from Fernando’s blog, Salt Peanuts.

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