Collector’s Corner

Birdland's Best Bebop


In 1954, Henri Renaud, a French pianist and producer, came to New York to organize a series of record dates with the cream of the super-hot '50s-era bebop scene revolving around the Birdland jazz club. With an all-star roster of players at the top of their game, credited under the name The Birdlanders, the results of Renaud's efforts were released as The Birdlanders, Vol. 1 & 2.  Now available as a digital download, it's a musical snapshot of a very special time.

Like filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier, Renaud was a Frenchman who fell in love with America's art music. For many years, he accompanied jazz artists appearing in Paris before coming to New York, the center of the jazz universe.

Renaud must have been on cloud 9 playing in the rhythm section with Oscar Pettiford, guitarist Tal Farlow and Max Roach. Another date featured pianist Duke Jordon (whose "Jordu" is here called "Minor Escamp"), Gene Ramey and Lee Abrams. There were four sessions in all, with four different combinations of rhythm section and front line. Milt Jackson appears, as do trombonists J.J. Johnson and Kai Winding and saxophonist Al Cohn.

Anyone with an interest in this era, one of the most fascinating periods of jazz, needs to have these recordings in their collection.

in this playlist.