An all-star group to end all-star groups, the Quintet (italics as they appear on the cover of the Debut Records release) consisted of Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, Max Roach, and Charles Mingus. Each was easily the greatest performer on his respective instrument at the time of the bebop period, and this one-night-only gathering still remains as one of the most concentrated collections of talent the jazz world has ever seen.
Arranged by the New Jazz Society of Toronto at the height of the bebop period, the club's officers wanted to hold a huge concert with the great jazz musicians of the time at Massey Hall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The club signed a contract with Charles Mingus, who convinced the other four musicians to come.
The Massey Hall concert (the group's only performance) took place on May 15, 1953, and the results were, in a word, brilliant. The group played six jazz standards to an enthusiastic crowd, and the recording still shows that the performers were enjoying this all-star band as much as their audience, with plenty of clowning from Diz and Bird. Never before had the jazz world heard such virtuosity, and they would never hear a quintet of this sort again.
In New York City, Miles Davis had already grown tired of bebop and was quietly working to start The Next Big Thing: Cool Jazz.
In two short years, Charlie Parker would be dead from what amounted to a heroin overdose.
Still, the album that was released remains as a never-to-be-recreated collection of some of the greatest and most influential artists of our time.
The Quintet: Jazz at Massey Hall
Recorded live at Massey Hall in Toronto, Canada; May 15, 1953
Reissue Copyright 1989, Debut Records
- Perdido (7:53) (Tizol-Lengsfelder-Drake)
- Salt Peanuts (7:30) (Gillespie-Clarke)
- All the Things You Are (7:55) (Hammerstein-Kern)
- Wee (6:45) (Dizzy Gillespie)
- Hot House (9:18) (Tadd Dameron)
- A Night in Tunisia (7:33) (Gillespie-Paparelli)