Some musicians are so gifted that their fans, and musicologists in general, want to have every note they played archived somehow, no matter how bad the condition of the recording or its sound quality may be. If I had to name one musician who deserves such attention, that musician could easily be Charlie Parker, but you have to draw the line somewhere. “Bird at St Nick’s” is a good example of where a lot of us would draw the line on how bad of a recording is acceptable, especially when that recording is sold on expensive 180 gram vinyl.
Side one of “St Nicks” consists of someone holding a tape deck very near Charlie Parker and only recording while he plays his solos. Later a sound engineer did a decent job of splicing the solo sections together for the continuity of the songs. The recording quality is typically bad, Parker comes through okay, but the rest of the band is a vague rumble in the background. The good thing about this side though is that you do get some very good solos for the serious fan who wants to have every note Parker ever played. This side is acceptable from a musicological standpoint, but things get much worse on side two.
Side two opens with “Confirmation”, which features Parker’s best solo on the record, and a sound quality similar to the first side, but then its all down hill from there. Something happens on the ironically titled “Out of Nowhere”, it sounds like the band is in the other room now. I get the feeling the guy left the deck running while he went to the bathroom, but maybe I’m wrong. There is so much room reverb on the saxophone that it sounds like a violin, I literally checked the album cover to see if there was a guest violinist! Side two continues with more songs that are so badly recorded you can barely make out what Parker is playing, much less anyone else except, oddly enough, the bass player.
For the hardcore Parker fan and obsessive musicologist, there are some good solos on side one and parts of side two, but then there are some other songs on side two that are just plain worthless. I can understand why this recording exists, but my main complaint is why was this issued on 180 gram vinyl? It seems to me that putting something on 180 gram vinyl comes across as an endorsement that this is one of his best recordings.