Over most of the next two years, the saxophonist produced many of the recordings that came to be regarded as his own best work, and some of the most remarkable jazz improvisation and back-of-an-envelope composing ever committed to disc. Russell eventually became Parker's biographer, with the highly-readable but not always strictly accurate Bird Lives! They also span the extremes of Parker's emotional climate and physical resources, from the incoherent but impassioned soliloquy of Lover Man recorded when the exhausted and addicted saxophonist could barely stand, let alone play to the astonishing fertility and energy of classic performances like Ornithology, Moose The Mooche, and Yardbird Suite. The latter recordings came early in the Dial years, in the spring of , and indicate how completely Parker had mastered his craft.
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Ross Russell, who recorded Charlie Parker on his small independent jazz label, Dial Records, and wrote a biography of Parker as well as a book on the history of Kansas City jazz, died on Jan. He was Russell was born and raised in Los Angeles and spent his early adult years as a telegram deliveryman, a cub reporter and a writer of detective stories for pulp magazines.
He began collecting records in the 's, and spent some time touring with the bandleader Luis Russell. His professional involvement with jazz was brief but controversial. Independent labels were flourishing, and that fall Mr.
Russell took it upon himself to record Charlie Parker when the saxophonist came to Los Angeles to play an engagement at Billy Berg's nightclub as a member of Dizzy Gillespie's sextet. That period yielded a series of rpm records, released on Dial, Mr. Russell's label. Russell supervised the recordings. The first batch, done in February , were among Parker's greatest work.
But in July Mr. Russell brought Parker back to the studio, at a time when the saxophonist was at his most tortured: his Los Angeles heroin source had been arrested, and he was deep into alcohol binges. During a version of the ballad ''Lover Man,'' Parker's withdrawal symptoms altered the control in his playing, giving him involuntary muscle spasms, making him sound sick and adrift.
Elliott Grennard, a Billboard writer who witnessed the recording, wrote a short story about it for Harper's magazine called ''Sparrow's Last Jump. Russell released ''Lover Man,'' and it became a symbolic tale of cultural exploitation -- of artists who don't own their work set against businessmen who do. Russell remained an ally of Parker's for the rest of the time Parker stayed in Los Angeles, becoming his legal guardian after Parker's release from Camarillo.
But Parker later made no secret of his anger about the release of ''Lover Man. Russell moved to New York in the late 's and by the 50's had abandoned the record business. He wrote a biography of Parker, ''Bird Lives! The High Life and Hard Times of Charlie Yardbird Parker,'' published in ; it was a vivid, well-written book, although it has since been criticized for inaccuracies. In later years he ran a golf club in Massachusetts and lived at various times in South Africa, England, Germany and Austria.
He sold Dial's catalog to Spotlite Records in England in View on timesmachine. TimesMachine is an exclusive benefit for home delivery and digital subscribers.
He is survived by a son, David, of San Jose, Calif. Home Page World U.
50 great moments in jazz: Charlie Parker teams up with Ross Russell
I don't know why but I'm feeling so sad I long to try something I never had Never had no kissin' Oh, what I've been missin' Lover man, oh, where can you be? For years, the scene has been misinterpreted so often that now it is taken for read that Juliet is looking for her lover man. The language of the time meant something different. It goes like this:.
Ross Russell, 90; Recorded Charlie Parker
Lover Man (Oh, Where Can You Be?)