When June Met Bird And Diz

Through the 1950s, touring jazz package concerts filled huge auditoriums. This picture from Jet Magazine’s September 4, 1952, issue shows three stars of a Stan Kenton package that combined Kenton’s band and an array of guest artists.

If Gillespie, Christy and Parker recorded together on that tour or at any other time, I’d be glad to know about it. Until such a recording surfaces, we’ll have to settle for Gillespie and Parker with Thelonious Monk, Curly Russell and Buddy Rich playing “Bloomdido.”

That is from the Bird and Diz album recorded in June, 1950. It has been reissued many times. No wonder.

Thanks to blogger and frequent Rifftides commenter Bruno Leicht for alerting us to the photo from Jet.

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  1. Jon Foley says

    To my knowledge, the only time Bird, Diz and June Christy toured together with Kenton was in February, 1954, which doesn’t match the date given for the photograph. The tour was called the Festival of Modern American Jazz, and I attended the concert in Worcester, MA. Besides Bird, Diz, and Christy, Candido and Lee Konitz were also guest soloists (Konitz was no longer a band member by then). The Erroll Garner Trio was also featured. Each of the guest soloists appeared alone with the band, so Bird and Diz didn’t play together. (That tour was an alto sax fan’s dream, since in addition to Bird and Konitz, the sax section of the band contained Charlie Mariano and Dave Schildkraut!).

    I have, buried in a closet somewhere, some recordings from that tour on a double-LP set on the Artistry label. I have to rely on my memory, since it’s not available to look at, but I recall that there are about 3 or 4 tracks featuring Bird with the band. I don’t recall Diz being on the album, although he could be. Neither Bird nor Dizzy played when June Christy sang. If I can find the album, I’ll post more information.

    And I’ve got to get that album digitized!

      • Jon Foley says

        I own that CD, Doug, and it’s a recording from the *second* Festival of Modern American Jazz in 1954; that tour started in September and went until at least November, when I heard them – again, in Worcester, MA. That second tour had a different lineup than the February one: the Kenton band; Candido; Johnny Smith; the Charlie Ventura Quintet; the Art Tatum Trio; and Shorty Rogers and the Giants (with Jimmy Giuffre, Pete Jolly, Curtis Counce, and the great Shelly Manne). That CD is an excellent one, but it doesn’t feature any of the guest artists – just the band (which is fine with me).
        The band personnel had changed somewhat by September, including Mel Lewis replacing Stan Levey.

        Apparently the only CD recordings of the Kenton/Bird/Dizzy tour are the ones linked to below by Brew, and they are only the tracks featuring Bird and Dizzy with the band – not the rest of the concert. So that means I still have to get my LP set digitized!

  2. says

    There will never surface such a recording with June & the two “bebop boys” because each of those “attachments” had her/ his separate set, respectively feature number(s).

    Six tracks with Bird & Diz & Stan are available on LP/ CD. They are from the concert at Civic Auditorium, Portland, Oregon, on February 25, 1954.

    Since the tracks were in no particular order on my LP twofer, here’s the supposed order which got supported by Stan Kenton’s introductions:

    1. – Night And Day (Bird) 3:02
    2. – On The Alamo (Diz) 2:55
    3. – Ooh-Shoobie-Doo-Be (Diz) 4:00
    4. – My Funny Valentine (Bird) 3:18
    5. – Cherokee (Bird) 2:52
    6. – Manteca (Diz) 8:21

    Bird’s & Kenton’s “Cherokee” can be heard at my blog, you have so kindly endorsed once again:

    Here’s the updated article on Ray Noble’s greatest hit, which I have dedicated to Clifford Brown just recently.

    • Jon Foley says

      I enjoyed your Cherokee page, and especially the chance to hear Parker with Kenton again. Since I no longer have a working turntable, I can’t listen to my LP set of that concert until I get it transferred to CD.

      As to the order of the numbers they played: Since I attended one of the concerts on that tour, I can vouch for the fact that Dizzy played his set with the band – three tunes or so – then later Bird played his set. They did not alternate playing their numbers – at least at the concert I attended. I’ll always wonder why Kenton chose not to have Bird and Dizzy play together, at least on one tune. Maybe he didn’t want it, maybe they didn’t want to – we’ll never know.

      Thanks again for the links.