Not Bad Late Bud Powell...
Bud Powell’s great French benefactor Francis Paudras accumulated, self-recorded, and released a good bit of live Powell after the pianist’s expatriation to Paris in 1959. It is from this collection that The Paris Sessions is assembled. The recordings were made between 1957 and 1964, two years before the pianist’s unfortunate death in New York City of tuberculosis, drink, and dissolution.
During the heyday of the Bebop revolution, Bud Powell was the preeminent Modern Jazz pianist. If Thelonious Monk was the High Priest of Bebop, then Powell was its archbishop. Both men had a healthy mutual respect for one another, demonstrated by Powell’s inclusion of many Monk tunes in his repertoire and Monk’s composing of the classic, "In Walked Bud."
On this current collection, it is Duke Ellington that is best represented with no less than three of the fourteen pieces being associated with the master. "I Got It Bad," "Satin Doll," and "Perdido" sparkle, even in Powell’s twilight. He also addresses "How High The Moon," "Be Bop," and "Body and Soul" (the latter with Johnny Griffin on tenor saxophone), summing up the movement he, Dizzy Gillespie, and Charlie Parker created. "Bud on Bach" demonstrates Powell’s Classical proclivities and "Get Happy" Tin Pan Alley bent.
This is not prime Powell. One must look to Blue Note and Verve for that. But for a glimpse into the endgame of genius, not unlike Billie Holiday’s Lady in Satin, The Paris Sessions is a good place to start.
Gentle listeners, be forewarned, the fidelity, in spite of 24-Bit/88.2 khz digital editing and transfer, is still a challenge. But it is one worth investigating.
Because this is Bud Powell, after all, and gods don’t answer letters.