Monday, August 3, 2015

Bud Powell: Two French Interviews

This post presents a transcribed interview (along with the original audio clip) of Bud Powell, conducted in France where he was recuperating from tuberculosis at the Boullemont Sanatorium.

I heard it the first time as the last track from an exceptional CD, Inner Fires, which featured Bud’s trio with Charlie Mingus and Roy Haynes at Club Kavakos, Washington D. C from April 5, 1953.

Interestingly, the album came out as a part Bill Potts collection, a Washingtonian pianist who accompanied Lester Young in his legendary Washington concerts, released in five volumes.

Although Bud Powell was very sick at the time, his comments lend insight into his not so accessible musical universe.

First Interview: January 15, 1963

You may already know that Bud is suffering from tuberculosis and is now recuperating in a sanatorium near Paris. We went to see him there and tried to interview him. I say 'tried' because Bud is extremely weak now, and it was necessary to ask him the same question several times before he was able to respond. It was also technically difficult to conduct this interview, but I think that despite all this we were able to assemble enough good material for you to hear.

Q: Bud, you told me that you’ve written a new tune since your arrival at the hospital. Would you please tell me its name and give me an idea of how it goes?

A: I wrote In the Mood for a Classic. [Bud sings]

Q: Bud, for whom did you compose this piece?

A: I composed it for France in general.

Q: Who are your favorite players?

A: AI Haig. He is my idea of a perfect pianist.

G: Would you like to mention some other piano players who you admire?

A: I told you Al Haig...well, let me see. On piano I always did like Billy Kyle. Hank Jones.

Q: Bud, who was your piano teacher?

A: Art Tatum.

Q: Have you spent much time with Art Tatum?

A: I don’t know...Art Tatum used to take me out for a drive in his big Lincoln. He had a sky- blue Lincoln…I’ve been in his car.

Q: Who is your favorite composer?

A: Thelonious Monk, one of my favorites from a long time ago. We used to hang out all day and all night at after-hour joints.

Q: Bud, who are your other favorite musicians apart from pianists-on trumpet and an sax?

A: Saxophonist, Johnny Griffin. On trumpet, Miles Davis.

Q: Which bass player do you like?

A: When he was alive, Oscar Pettiford. I like Tommy Potter- he’s a good bass player.

Q: Who ore your favorite accompanists?

A: Max Roach. And Ray Brown.

Second Interview: May 6, 1963

Bud Powell is feeling much better now. The doctors at the sanatorium have given him a few days' vacation, and he is here with us in the studio this evening to tell us what he’s been up to.

Q: How do you feel?

A: I feel fine, thank you. The doctors say I’ll be well soon, and I’ll go home. They say I've been improving last.

Q: Bud, what good music have you heard lately?

A: Well, Charlie Mingus is nice; and Toshiko [Akiyoshi] is nice-l think she's a very technical pianist.

Q: Do you often listen to Art Tatum’s records?

A: I'm crazy about Tatum. He's still my best friend, one of my good friends.

Q: What are your latest compositions?

A: Three new tunes. In the Mood for a Classic is one, Hey Diddy Dee is another, and Un Noche Con Francis is the other one.

Q: Are you familiar with Bill Evans?

A: I heard him on records only. He’s nice. He can play. I heard he was sick.

Q: I also heard that he was ill, but I can tell you that he's feeling fine. Bud thank you for your visit, and good-bye.

A: [In French] Good evening, and I’ll be back soon.

Listen to the audio clip:

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