Notes by Dan Wallach, Jam Educator

In the years 1946-1947 Charlie “Bird” Parker (1920-1955) made a series of recordings on the Dial label.  Cool Blues is a composition appearing in that collection as well as other Parker collections.  This tune is a straightforward 12-bar blues.  The melody is a “riff” in the “Kansas City” style.  The tune is likely something Parker composed rapidly to have enough material for this recording session.  Evidence of this is the tune’s riff style.  The tune is repeated very similarly three times in a row making only some of the likely modifications to accommodate the harmony.  This lack of harmonic accommodation is most evident in the use of B naturals throughout the tune.   Also, the only Eb being in the fifth bar is another example.  The way around this was to disregard the dominant seventh on the head and play a simple triad, avoiding the situation.

We will play the tune in the key of C as a medium up-swing blues, as it is in the original recording.


The chord progression we will follow for improvisations is:

||   C7  |  F7  |  C7  |  C7   |

|    F7   |  F7  |  C7  |  A7  |

|   d-7  |  G7  |  C7  |  G7  ||