Tim Whalen: Oblivion: The Music of Bud Powell

Mark Sullivan By

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Pianist/composer/arranger Tim Whalen pays tribute to the great bebop pianist Bud Powell with this set of creative arrangements. Whalen rightly points out that Powell was the architect of modern jazz piano, yet he is often overlooked when fellow bebop pioneers Bird, Monk, and Dizzy are mentioned. His arrangements of Powell compositions (plus one new original) are respectful to the originals, while adding his personal stamp at the same time.

He has a premier crew of Washington DC-based players, who played this music at a special tribute concert prior to recording it. Elijah Jamal Balbed (tenor and soprano saxophones) is on the front line, supported by guitarist Paul Pieper, upright bassist Eliot Seppa, and drummer Shareef Taher, plus of course the leader on piano. Drummer Carroll Dashiell III replaces Taher on the two trio selections.

The upbeat "Hallucinations" opens the set, including a round of solos featuring the entire band. "Parisian Thoroughfare" gets a complete reinvention, with a fresh rhythmic feel and its fleet lines harmonised by sax, guitar, and piano. "Un Poco Loco" has a latin/swing treatment, while "Celia" gets a dramatic contrapuntal arrangement for the head, with interweaving piano, guitar and bass. The closing "Wail" integrates melodies from Bud's original piano solo. One way these arrangements honor the bebop tradition is the uniformly fast tempos—not that these crack players ever show any sign of strain. But the trio selections ("Blue Pearl" and Whalen's "I'll Keep Loving You") are both ballads, creating a nice contrast.

Even the most frequently covered Bud Powell compositions (e.g. "Parisian Thorougfare," "Un Poco Loco" and "Celia") can hardly be called overexposed. Coupled with the creative arrangements, that makes this program simultaneously fresh and classic. You can't ask for more in a tribute album.

Track Listing: Hallucinations; Parisian Thoroughfare; Kind Bud; Un Poco Loco; Blue Pearl; Oblivion; Celia; Tempus Fugue-it; I'll Keep Loving You; Wail.

Personnel: Tim Whalen: piano; Paul Pieper: guitar; Elijah Jamal Balbed: tenor & soprano saxophones; Eliot Seppa: upright bass; Shareef Taher: drums (all tracks, except 5 & 9); Carroll "CV" Dashiell III: drums (tracks 5 & 9).

Title: Oblivion: The Music of Bud Powell | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Self Produced


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