Gary Giddins
August 23, 1991 at 04:00 AM EDT

From One Charlie

type
Music
Current Status
In Season
performer
Charlie Watts
genre
Jazz
We gave it an A-

Where does this rank in the irony sweepstakes? The drummer in the Rolling Stones creates a children’s primer about Charlie Parker, the presiding genius of modern jazz who burned himself out on drugs at 34. The inspiration for the project goes back to 1964, when Watts published a children’s book, Ode to a High Flying Bird, that employed witty metaphors built on Parker’s nickname, Bird, to tell the story of a hip chicken who whistled from his heart but got hooked on bad seed. It immediately became a collector’s item, never reprinted until now. Watts has packaged it along with a 28-minute CD, From One Charlie, on which he leads a quintet through seven pieces, including two Parker blues, that splendidly capture the brilliant optimism and foregone tragedy of Bird and his bebop. The first piece, which features Peter King on alto sax, begins with out-of-tune scales and develops into the rudiments of Bird’s style. It’s a lovely concept, but will it really work for kids? I’m waiting until my daughter turns three to find out. A-

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