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Geoffrey Haydon explores the legendary "Massey Hall concert" - the night in Toronto in May 1953 when five of the most creative and influential jazz musicians of all time took the stage together, for the only time in their lives: Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, Charles Mingus and Max Roach. Though the evening began inauspiciously, with no real rehearsal, the hall less than half full, and Charlie Parker turning up with a white plastic saxophone, nearly 50 years later the CD of the concert is still selling - entitled, with little exaggeration, "The Greatest Jazz Concert Ever". "Quintet of the Year" is in the same tradition as Ashley Kahn's books on the making of "Kind of Blue" and "A Love Supreme". Geoffrey Haydon traces the lives of the five jazzmen from their beginnings in music to when they boarded the plane for Canada, and then afterwards, whether to civil rights activism or tragically early death, to show how their stories dramatised for the world the condition of black artists in America. He recreates the never-to-be-repeated occasion of that remarkable concert itself, from the backstage rows to the embarrassment of box-office receipts insufficient to pay the illustrious musicians - but above all the wonder of pieces like "Perdido", "Salt Peanuts" and "A Night in Tunisia" perfomed by five of the finest American musicians of the century, for one night only.
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