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Bud Powell

From Academic Kids

Bud Powell (September 27, 1924 - July 31, 1966) is widely regarded as one of the finest and most influential pianists in the history of jazz. He was instrumental in the development of bebop. His virtuosity as a pianist has led many to call him the Charlie Parker of the piano.

Powell's father was a stride pianist, and Bud studied with Thelonious Monk, who dedicated his composition "In Walked Bud" to Powell. Powell's first recordings were made with the Cootie Williams Band in 1944, when he was 20, and his last recordings were made in 1964 at Birdland after his return to the United States after several years in Europe.

Throughout his life, Powell suffered from various mental illnesses, which may have been exacerbated by a beating he received from the police in his youth. He was repeatedly placed in mental institutions, where he was treated with electroshock therapies.

During his sojourn in Europe starting in 1959, he was cared for by Francis Paudras, a commercial artist and amateur pianist. Paudras later wrote a book about the experience. Its English title is Dance of the Infidels: A Portrait of Bud Powell (the title is derived from one of Bud's compositions). The book was the basis for Round Midnight, a film inspired by the lives of Bud Powell and Lester Young, in which Dexter Gordon played the lead role of an expatriate jazzman in Paris.

Most agree that Powell's best playing on record was done for the Blue Note label, from 1949 to 1958, although two sessions for Roost (in 1947 and 1953) and the first few Verve sessions of 1949-51 yielded classic performances. Powell's "later" Verve sessions are frequently contrasted (unfavorably) with the "earlier" Blue Note sessions, but in fact Powell recorded for Blue Note both before and after his tenure with Verve.

Bud's performance of "Un Poco Loco" (1951) was selected by literary critic Harold Bloom for inclusion on his short list of the greatest works of twentieth-century American art.

Selected compositions

As well as a pianist of great skill, Powell was a prolific composer. Some of his most famous compositions include:

  • Un Poco Loco
  • Tempus Fugue-It (aka Tempus Fugit)
  • Dance of the Infidels
  • Bouncing with Bud
  • Cleopatra's Dream
  • Hallucinations
  • Celia

Selected recordings on CD

The Complete Blue Note and Roost Recordings -- Comprises nearly all of Bud's most important recorded work. Four discs. The more recent RVG edition issues, as individual CDs, arguably contain better transfers of the Blue Note recordings.

The Amazing Bud Powell, Volume One (remastered version) -- CD issue of two complete Blue Note sessions (August 8, 1949 and May 1, 1951). The first session is highlighted by three takes of "Bouncing with Bud" and the second by the legendary "Un Poco Loco," plus two alternate takes. (NOTE -- Older versions of this CD only include about half of the May 1 session.)

Jazz Giant -- Verve sessions from 1949-1950, highlighted by the Bach-like "Tempus Fugue-It." The complete recordings on Verve (and associated labels) appeared in a five CD set in 1994.

The Definitive Bud Powell -- Sampler featuring many of Powell's most celebrated performances, including "Tempus Fugue-It," "Celia," "Bouncing with Bud," and "Un Poco Loco."

External references

da:Bud Powell he:באד פאוול ja:バド・パウエル

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