Let me start off by saying I love Charlie Parker. Much of my early improvisation study came from playing the Omnibook and studying Parker's solo lines and phrasing.
Needless to say, I was excited to see the CD Play-Along set released, with all 60 songs from the Omnibook performed with a great sounding rhythm section. I was glad to see the background tracks follow the books format almost all the time. For example: if the song has an 8 bar rest before the melody, the track has 8 bars of music before you begin.
Since this is a Play-Along set, I grabbed my Eb Omnibook, my alto and jumped right in with the tracks. I found this a lot more difficult than I expected considering I have played and studied these solos, on and off, for years. What I discovered is that I have been way too generous with tempos over the years. These tracks are screaming along and it felt like it had to be faster than the marked tempo. I checked and the tempos are right - turns out I've been lazy!
My initial excitement has been challenged with the need to get this music back up to tempo and back under my fingers at the given tempo marking. I love a good challenge and this CD Play-Along is going to be all that and more. The playing level required for Charlie Parker solos is very high, and maybe higher when playing them at tempos in the 200's and pushing 300 BPM.
Years ago we only had the original recordings to try and play along with. The audio was generally light on the bottom end and hard to follow with the added volume of a loud saxophone in your hands. The audio on this track is modern and full sounding, and really easy to follow because the bass and drums have more low-end and a stronger beat.
If you are a fan of jazz solos, Parker is a must hear. If you are a sax player, you should be learning some of Parker's solos. If you have the Omnibook and thought you had it "down", you might want to get these CDs and really get the feel of what Parker played.
The full 60 songs are available on 3 CDs. The package is book like, with the CDs attached to CD holder pages and a song list showing track numbers and songs on each CD. The song order is the same as the book, so you can open the book and blow.
It is important to remember that this is a Play-Along CD set and the Omnibook is not included. The Omnibook has all of the written solos, transcribed from Charlie Parker recordings, and must be purchased separately. The Omnibook is available for Treble Clef instruments in C, and Bass Clef instruments in C (trombone or tuba/euphonium). It is also transposed for Bb and Eb instruments (saxophone, trumpet) – Bb tenor or soprano sax and Eb alto or baritone sax.