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2. Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, “Hot House,” 1952

Parker (alto sax) and Gillespie (trumpet) took improvisation on the chord structure of a melody to its outer limits. “Hot House” is based on the chords of Cole Porter’s “What Is This Thing Called Love?,” used as a pretext for high-speed, breakneck melodic inventiveness (which this YouTube clip only fleetingly and inadequately captures). No one could match Parker for harmonically sophisticated improvisations elaborated at high speed – for that matter, no one could match Parker’s speed in any other aspect of life, either.