Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Crash Course on Bud Powell


"Bud was totally immersed in music -- his one constant reality. Even when there was no instrument available, he could hear the sounds. Once when a friend visited him in hospital, Bud sketched piano keys on the wall. 'Listen, what do you think of these chords,' he asked while he banged his fingers against the drawing."

This anecdote which is narrated by the deep voice of David W. Niven is the essence of Bud Powell, the subject of this new post. And also this post happens to be the 400th on Take the "A" Train, so in a sense you may call it a celebration too.

The plan is to study Bud Powell though the tapes of archivist David Niven. Please note that a few seconds of silence exists between the end of side A of each tape and the beginning of side B. The side reversal happens automatically for each tape.

I've already posted Bud-related materials here, including a note on a Danish film about the pianist, and a handful of interviews. For completion sake, be aware of the seminal Bud Powell book, Wail: The Life of Bud Powell by Peter Pullman which is described by its author as an "unsentimental biography—not hagiography—of a major jazz artist." Pullman continues: "It’s based as much on an exhaustive look at the public record and press on Powell, as it is on eyewitness accounts of his live performances and on personal opinions of his private life—in addition to subjective assessments of his studio recordings. The book treats all of these accounts as so many pathways to understanding the central paradox of the musically explosive yet emotionally impassive Powell: How could he have played with such rhythmic euphoria (and romantic feeling!) and, yet, seldom if ever have allowed anyone to see the physical and psychic pain that he was often enduring?"

For ordering the paper edition of Bud Powell book, email the author directly at pullman_peter[at]yahoo.com.

This crash course features some 500 minutes of Powell's romantic agony (i.e. music), and as it has been the case with great art, his pain will be your incalculable pleasure.



1946

Dexter Gordon Quintet
Leonard Hawkins (tp) Dexter Gordon (ts) Bud Powell (p) Curly Russell (b) Max Roach (d)
NYC, January 29, 1946

Long Tall Dexter
Dexter Rides Again
Dexter Digs In


Three cuts above were reissued on this LP.


J.J. Johnson's Beboppers
J.J. Johnson (tb) Cecil Payne (bars) Bud Powell (p) Leonard Gaskin (b) Max Roach (d)
NYC, June 26, 1946

Jay Bird
Coppin' The Bop
Hey Jay Jay
Mad Bebop


The four sides above were issued by Savoy on 78 rpm.


1947

Charlie Parker All Stars
Miles Davis (tp) Charlie Parker (as) Bud Powell (p) Tommy Potter (b) Max Roach (d)
Harry Smith Studios, NYC, May 8, 1947

Donna Lee
Cheryl
Buzzy


One of the true treasures of digital age, this CD contains all tracks above.


Fats Navarro/Gil Fuller's Modernists
Kenny Dorham, Fats Navarro (tp) Sonny Stitt (as) Morris Lane (ts) Eddie DeVerteuil (bars) Bud Powell (p)
Al Hall (b) Kenny Clarke (d) Gil Fuller (arr)
NYC, September 6, 1946

Boppin' A Riff
Fat Boy
Everything's Cool
Webb City


In addition to this vinyl, the Memorial LP is another source for what you heard above.


Sonny Stitt Quintet/The Bebop Boys
Kenny Dorham (tp) Sonny Stitt (as) Bud Powell (p) Al Hall (b) Kenny Clarke (d)
NYC, September 4, 1946 (Niven gives '47 as the date. Modern discographies give '46.)


Serenade to a Square
Good Kick

Seven Up
Blues in Bebop

Out of circulation, bankrupt and long gone, still this is the best edition for four sides above.


1949

Bud Powell's Modernists
Fats Navarro (tp) Sonny Rollins (ts) Bud Powell (p) Tommy Potter (b) Roy Haynes (d)
WOR Studios, NYC, August 9, 1949

Bouncing With Bud (Three takes)
Wail
(Two Takes)
Dance Of The Infidels
You Go To My Head
(continued on the next tape)
Ornithology
(see the next tape)

When it comes to Bud as leader, many of the recordings can be found on complete edition CDs, including this seminal one.



This tapes starts with two tracks from the previous session/tape (see above), and then, after some ten minutes of music, continues like this:

Sonny Stitt Quartet
Sonny Stitt (ts) Bud Powell (p) Curly Russell (b) Max Roach (d)
NYC, December 11, 1949

All God's Chillun Got Rhythm
Sonny Side
Bud's Blues


Bud Powell Trio
Bud Powell (p) Curly Russell (b) Max Roach (d)
Carnegie Hall, NYC, December 25, 1949

All God's Chillun Got Rhythm

The Stars Of Modern Jazz
Miles Davis (tp) Bennie Green (tb) Sonny Stitt (as) Serge Chaloff (bars) Bud Powell (p) Curly Russell (b) Max Roach (d)
Carnegie Hall, NYC, December 25, 1949

Move/Hot House
(edited)


These people were on the same stage!


1950

Sonny Stitt Quartet
Sonny Stitt (ts) Bud Powell (p) Curly Russell (b) Max Roach (d)
NYC, January 26, 1950

Strike Up The Band
I Want To Be Happy
Fine And Dandy


Charlie Parker Quintet
Fats Navarro (tp) Charlie Parker (as) Bud Powell (p) Curly Russell (b) Art Blakey (d)
Birdland, NYC, May 17 (Niven says June), 1950

'Round About Midnight
This Time The Dream's On Me
Street Beat
Out Of Nowhere
I'll Remember April
Cool Blues


I don't have the "complete" edition myself, but Round Midnight is only presented in this edition. Poor quality, though.


1951

Bud Powell Trio
Bud Powell (p) Curly Russell (b) Max Roach (d)
WOR Studios, NYC, May 1, 1951

Un Poco Loco (alt. take 1)
Un Poco Loco (alt. take 2) 

Un Poco Loco
Over The Rainbow
A Night In Tunisia
A Night In Tunisia (alt. take)
It Could Happen To You (alt. take)
Parisian Thoroughfare


During 1951-53 Bud was mostly ill. 



1953

Bud Powell Trio
Bud Powell (p) Charles Mingus (b) Max Roach (d)
Massey Hall, Toronto, Canada, May 15, 1953

Embraceable You
Sure Thing
My Devotion
Polka Dots and Moonbeams
Cherokee
Hallelujah (Jubilee)
I've Got You Under My Skin
Heart Stood Still
Want to be Happy
Lullaby Of Birdland
All the Things You Are/52nd Street Theme
(edited out of a complete take with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie)


These days the better known source for this Canadian concert is the Amazing BP, vol.2.

Bud Powell Trio
Bud Powell (p) George Duvivier (b) Art Taylor (d)
WOR Studios, NYC, August 14, 1953

Autumn In New York
Reets And I
Collard Greens And Black-Eyed Peas
Polka Dots And Moonbeams Blue Note BLP 5041, BLP 1504
I Want To Be Happy
Audrey B
The Glass Enclosure


1956

Bud Powell Trio
Bud Powell (p) George Duvivier (b) Art Taylor (d)
NYC, October 5, 1956

There'll Never Be Another You
Coscrane
Over The Rainbow
Blues For Bessie


To listen to the rest of this session play to the next tape.



Bud Powell Trio
Bud Powell (p) George Duvivier (b) Art Taylor (d)
NYC, October 5, 1956

Topsy Turvy
Time Was
Lush Life
Elegie
They Didn't Believe Me
I Cover The Waterfront
Jump City


This one is available from Fresh Sound in Spain.


1957

Bud Powell
Bud Powell (p) Paul Chambers (b) Art Taylor (d)
Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, August 3, 1957

Blue Pearl
Keepin' In The Groove
Some Soul
Frantic Fancies
(Trio - continues on the side B of the tape)
Bud On Bach
(solo)

Bud Powell Quartet
Curtis Fuller (tb) Bud Powell (p) Paul Chambers (b) Art Taylor (d)
Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, August 3, 1957

Idaho
Don't Blame Me

Moose The Mooche


This Alfred Lion date is aka the Amazing BP, vol.3


1958

Bud Powell Trio
Bud Powell (p) Sam Jones (b) Philly Joe Jones (d)
Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, May 24, 1958

John's Abbey (alt. take)
Sub City
John's Abbey


This session continues on the next tape.



Bud Powell Trio
Bud Powell (p) Sam Jones (b) Philly Joe Jones (d)
Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, May 24, 1958

Buster Rides Again
Dry Soul
Marmalade
Monopoly
Time Waits


This massive boxed-set is all you need for knowing Bud. Previous songs are reissued/remastered here.


Bud Powell Trio
Bud Powell (p) Paul Chambers (b) Art Taylor (d)
Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, December 29, 1958

The Scene Changes 
Down With It
Comin' Up
(continues on the side B)
Duid Deed
Cleopatra's Dream
Gettin' There
Crossin' The Channel 
Danceland
Borderick

For reasons that I can't fully explain, this is one of my favorite Bud Powell recordings. All tracks from Dec 29 are put together here.


1960

Oscar Pettiford Quartet
Coleman Hawkins (ts) Bud Powell (p) Oscar Pettiford (b) Kenny Clarke (d)
Essen Jazz Festival, Grugahalle, Essen, West Germany, April 2, 1960

Stuffy
Just You, Just Me
All The Things You Are


The story ends here, but not that of Bud Powell's. After 1960, and before his death in '66, Powell continued to record, and contrary to general belief, they are some of the most remarkable recordings in his career (including playing compositions by Thelonious Monk and some poorly recorded, nevertheless breathtaking sessions in Europe in which "you can almost smell the garlic and the sweat." [Cook/Morton, 2002])

However, what you heard through Niven Tapes was a great distillation of the man's art and life, it's sheer energy and its schizophrenic moods, as well as its staggering precision in defining the idiom of bebop piano.




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