All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review


Bud Powell: Bud Powell in Copenhagen

Chris Mosey By

Sign in to view read count
After establishing iconic status as the first great bop pianist in the 1940s, Bud Powell was plagued by both mental illness and a fondness for, to borrow his mentor Charlie Parker's famous phrase, "a little sherry before dinner." As a result his output was vastly uneven. Catch Powell right and he is brimfull of energy and ideas. Catch him wrong and, while the technique is there, his playing falls flat and lacks inspiration—it can even be a downright mess. Powell's move to Europe in 1959 gave him a new lease of life. This album, recorded in 1962, features Powell close to his best, scatting and growling happily as he plays with his old, rediscovered fire. Originally titled Bouncing With Bud, it has been released on different labels over the years, before emerging in Storyville's excellent In Copenhagen series. Powell is backed by the phenomenal bassist Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen, astonishingly just 15 at the time, and a self-effacing drummer, William Schiopffe.

The opener, "Rifftide," based on the chords of "Lady Be Good," dates back to 1945 when Powell was in his 20s and had just left Cootie Williams to take his place in the jazz revolution on 52nd Street. Just a year later, by which time he had absorbed Charlie Parker's ideas into his playing, his composition, "Bouncing With Bud" was being recorded by Sonny Stitt (as "Bebop In Pastel") and, more famously, in 1949 (under its correct title) by a quintet that included Sonny Rollins and Fats Navarro. The version here is claimed to be the first ever trio recording of the song.

The main part of the album comprises Powell's takes on tunes by fellow boppers. These include Tadd Dameron's "Hot House," the first time he's played it on record since the famous Massey Hall concert with Parker and Gillespie in 1953. Then there's Denzil Best's "Move" and, most interestingly, Thelonious Monk's "Straight, No Chaser" and "52nd Street Theme."

Powell pays jaunty tribute to such pre-bop influences as Earl Hines on Irving Berlin's "The Best Thing For You," obliterating memories of a disastrous 1955 recording he made of the same song. The only ballad, Benny Golson's magnificent "I Remember Clifford," is given a sensitive, very slow and lyrical treatment, a welcome break from all the up-tempo pyrotechnics. This album documents a troubled genius seeking and finding reconciliation with his past. Grateful thanks to Storyville for putting it back in circulation.

Track Listing: Rifftide; Bouncing With Bud; Move; The Best Thing For You; Straight, No Chaser, I Remember Clifford; Hot House; 52nd Street Theme.

Personnel: Bud Powell: piano; Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen: bass; William Schiopffe: drums.

Title: Bud Powell in Copenhagen | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Storyville Records


comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read The Questions CD/LP/Track Review
The Questions
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 20, 2018
Read Meerkat Parade CD/LP/Track Review
Meerkat Parade
by Geno Thackara
Published: March 20, 2018
Read The Poetry of Jazz CD/LP/Track Review
The Poetry of Jazz
by Mark Corroto
Published: March 20, 2018
Read The Unknowable CD/LP/Track Review
The Unknowable
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 20, 2018
Read Like A Radio CD/LP/Track Review
Like A Radio
by Doug Collette
Published: March 20, 2018
Read Live In Healdsburg CD/LP/Track Review
Live In Healdsburg
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 19, 2018
Read "Mikrojazz!: Neue Expressionistische Musik" CD/LP/Track Review Mikrojazz!: Neue Expressionistische Musik
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 5, 2017
Read "In The Past" CD/LP/Track Review In The Past
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 2, 2017
Read "Inside The Moment" CD/LP/Track Review Inside The Moment
by James Nadal
Published: June 21, 2017
Read "Expedition" CD/LP/Track Review Expedition
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 4, 2017
Read "Out Of Silence" CD/LP/Track Review Out Of Silence
by Mark Corroto
Published: November 17, 2017
Read "Tangents" CD/LP/Track Review Tangents
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: November 9, 2017