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Bud Powell, forever known for his groundbreaking bop piano, represents a key link to the evolution of an art form, but he's also a glaring reminder that jazz is first and foremost black music. Powell is a testament to the horrors of racism and the musical expression that emerged from the black American experience. While his contemporary Dave Brubeck enjoys the sunset of his career, Powell was never afforded that opportunity. After being hit on the head in an alleged fight with racist cops in his early 20s, Powell suffered significant head trauma and was in and out of psychiatric institutions for the rest of his life. Despite this tragedy and the behavioral inconsistencies it unleashed, Powell left behind an impressive oeuvre.
Bebop serves as a live retrospective that spans several Powell combos from 1948-64. The fourteen-track disc, featuring informative liner notes from Ted Panken, documents Powell's live prowess as the young pianist in a Max Roach-led "ad hoc tentet, three tracks from two live Paris dates in 1959 and 1960, and four selections from a week-long stint in Normandy, France in 1964.
The first eight songs, recorded at the Royal Roost in New York, provide great examples of Powell in a large band context. Powell is heard laying back in the groove on "(Back Home Again In) Indiana as a young JJ Johnson steps up for an extended trombone solo while Roach fuels him on. "Jumpin' with Symphony Sid finds trumpeter Benny Harris and Johnson trading solos until Powell takes over at about the 4:30 mark. The pianist shows off his uptown schooling at Minton's and the requisite stride leanings on the Monk-penned "52nd Street Theme over a vintage Roach beat.
"Confirmation, a cut from a Powell-led trio at the Club Saint-Germain, Paris in 1959, shows a veteran Powell in pure bop form with drummer Kenny Clarke and bassist Pierre Michelot. The Dizzy Gillespie-Clarke tune "Salt Peanuts shows Powell stretching out and having fun at a hotel club on the Normandy coast of France in 1964, just two years before his death at 41. The gorgeous Benny Golson ballad "I Remember Clifford closes out the disc in fine fashion, leaving fans with a welcome addition to the Bud Powell discography.
Track Listing: 1 Introduction by Leonard Feather 0:48; 2 Perdido Tizol 5:11; 3 (Back Home Again In) Indiana MacDonald 2:55; 4 Jumpin With Symphony Sid Young 5:47; 5 I'll Be Seeing You Fain, Kahal 2:19; 6 52nd Street Theme Monk 4:40; 7 Ornithology Harris, Parker 12:51; 8 Blues in the Closet Pettiford 4:19; 9 Now's the Time Parker 1:33; 10 Confirmation Parker 2:27; 11 Hot House Dameron 18:44; 12 Salt Peanuts Clarke, Gillespie 3:25; 13 Lady Bird Dameron 5:24; 14 I Remember Clifford Golson 7:13
Personnel: Nelson Boyd Bass; Kenny Clarke Drums; Buddy DeFranco Clarinet; Jacques Gervais Bass; Johnny Griffin Tenor Sax; Benny Harris Trumpet; Guy Hayat Drums; Budd Johnson Tenor Sax; J. Alan Johnson Trombone; Lee Konitz Alto Sax; ierre Michelot Bass; Cecil Payne Baritone Sax; Max Roach Drums; Chuck Wayne Guitar
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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