CMJ (10/6/03, p.37) - "...BIRD UP will greatly change the perception of Jazz remix records..."
This is the companion CD to BIRD UP: THE ORIGINALS.
The idea of an album that remixes the Savoy output of Charlie Parker may be horrifying for some, but before you join the purist mob take a gander at the names involved. Producer Matthew Backer has picked quite a crew of tasteful mavericks to remix the saxophonist, and Hal Willner's multiple appearances alone pay respect to the man who made tribute albums exciting. Willner's Whoops, I'm an Indian project turns "Salt Peanuts" into a musical genre-hopping wild ride with the Kronos Quartet providing the screechy edge and Dr. John laying down some boogie. It could have been a royal mess, but it isn't. Dan the Automator bends the recordings with a smirk and funk, but he's totally outdone by the turntables of the X-Ecutioners, who scratch right along with an especially hot Parker solo. Me'Shell NdegéOcello plays some deep, intuitive bass to a rather choppy "Relaxin' at Camarillo," and "All the Shadows of Nuff" finds Garth Hudson's keyboards adding the needed lyrical touch to Willner's quick juxtaposition of four separate Parker tunes. System of a Down's frontman, Serj Tankian, provides the album's highlight, sounding like Tom Waits and Bono's love child on the eerie and yearning rave-up "Bird of Paradise (Gone)." Naysayers should hear RZA scatting along with Bird, El-P's trippy mix, or Hubert Laws' expressive flute runs before dismissing the album entirely. Too many likeminded productions with their echoes and crackles make the album easier to take in small doses. Bird Up at least captures the innovative spirit of Charlie Parker, doesn't do any damage to the icon of hip, and makes for an exciting listen. ~ David Jeffries