Saturday, April 01, 2006
The drugs having finally worked their way through his system, Charlie Parker returns from the grave and announces he’s going to start playing again — once he gets his alto out of hock. The news sets off a media sensation, and soon offers are pouring in from various firms wanting to “present” Parker’s return. Ultimately, Pepsi (hoping to boost sales by luring Boomers away from Starbucks) makes the highest offer, and Bird is set to make his comeback in a Pepsi ad.
Soon, it’s the big day. An all-star rhythm section has been assembled, a string section has been hired, arrangements have been written, and a very select group of guests have assembled to hear the first Charlie Parker solo in over 50 years. Finally, the cameras are in place, the microphones are ready, and Parker enters the studio to tumultuous applause.
He puts horn to mouth, nods to the conductor, and the music begins. The audience is transported, as half a century of bottled-up improvisation flows into the room. When the music ends, there’s profound silence, then riotous applause. Some of the guests and most of the musicians are in tears. Parker beams.
Then, from the PA, comes the voice of Pepsi’s creative director. “That’s great man, great. Just incredible,” he says. “Now for the second take, could you make it sound more like David Sanborn?”