The Compositions of Charlie Parker, and the Ladybugs Sing

By Will Friedwald
Updated March 20, 2015 1:25 p.m. ET

Rudresh Mahanthappa, “Bird Calls”

Jazz Standard
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The Indian-American postmodern saxophonist plunges headfirst into one of the most challenging canons of work in all of jazz: the compositions of Charlie Parker. For his part, Mr. Mahanthappa makes his treatments of Bird sound as radically different from the source material as Parker’s do from his own sources. Although most of the tunes are based on classic Birdlore, virtually only “Talin Is Thinking” is immediately recognizable as spinning off a familiar Parker classic, “Parker’s Mood”. Mr. Mahanthappa is joined by trumpeter Adam O’Farrill, who—at 20—wasn’t born when Clint Eastwood directed “Bird” in 1988.