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The Quintet


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Jazz at Massey Hall is a jazz album featuring a live performance by The Quintet on 15 May 1953 at Massey Hall in Toronto. The musicians were five of the biggest names in jazz: Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Charles Mingus, and Max Roach. It was the only time that the five recorded together as a unit, and it was the last recorded meeting of Parker and Gillespie.

Parker famously played a plastic alto saxophone on this date; he could not be listed on the original programme notes or album cover for contractual reasons, so was billed as “Charlie Chan” (an allusion to the fictional detective and to Parker’s wife Chan). The record was originally issued on Mingus’s label Debut, using his own tape recording of the concert; the bassist, unhappy that his lines were insufficiently audible on the recording, overdubbed his part, and it is possible during the bass solos to hear him duetting with himself at times.

The music was born in part out of tension between the musicians, especially between Parker and Gillespie. One story asserts that they at first refused to go on stage, instead watching television in their dressing room.

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