Charlie Parker’s “Confirmation” is a notoriously complex composition, comprising a favorite testing ground and audition piece for jazz saxophone players.
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Parker performed “Confirmation” in Billy Berg’s jazz club in 1945, though it is possible that the piece was composed during Parker’s time in Jay McShann’s band five years prior.
According to the liner notes of Parker’s album, Now’s The Time, “The first released version of ‘Confirmation’ was taken from a broadcast of a 1947 Carnegie Hall performance that featured Parker and Dizzy Gillespie.”
Gillespie is sometimes credited as a co-composer for “Confirmation,” though Parker refuted these claims, directing blame toward Gillespie’s managers for attempting to apportion undue credit to Gillespie.
The rhythmic phrases that appear in “Confirmation” are incredibly intricate. Parker employed a technique that Gillespie refers to as “cramming,” where a longer, rapid phrase is squeezed into a much smaller time space. In “Confirmation,” these phrases are sometimes in double time, though often, the phrases relate to the time signature in a much more unconventional and archetypal manner.
In an interview for jazzstandards.com, vocalist Sheila Jordan explains, “Confirmation’ is a 32-bar original by Bird and is not based on any other tune. No one that I know of sings it but me except maybe students who have studied with me. I teach it but most of them never approach it. The lyrics were written by Skeeter Spight and Leroy Mitchell, the two singers who taught me how to scat in Detroit in the mid-forties.”
Many musicians who seek to emulate Parker’s style in “Confirmation” face challenges when encountered with the elaborate rhythms that Parker employed, playing the notes with the same rhythmic style instead of Parker’s skillful variances.
“Confirmation” was included in the Repertoire of the Modern Jazz Quartet.” Notable covers include recordings by the Heath Brothers, Richie Cole, Stanley Cowell, and Billy Hart.
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