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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Four Classic Albums Plus

Avid AMSC 1030



Strictly Powell
1. There Will Never Be Another You
2. Coscrane
3. Over The Rainbow
4. Blues For Bessie
5. Time Was
6. Topsy Turvy
7. Lush Life
8. Elegy
9. They Didn't Believe Me
10. I Cover The Waterfront
11. Jump City
The Genius Of Bud Powell
12. Parisienne Thorofare
13. Oblivion
14. Dusk In Sandi
15. Hallucinations
16. The Fruit
17. Tea For Two
18. Hallelujah
19. The Last Time I Saw Paris
20. Just One Of Those Things
21. A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square
22. Tea For Two
23. Tea For Two

Swingin' With Bud
1. Another Dozen
2. Like Someone In Love
3. Salt Peanuts
4. She
5. Swedish Pastry
6. Shawnuff
7. Oblivion
8. In The Blue Of The Evening
9. Get It
10. Birdland Blues
11. Midway
Piano Interpretations By Bud Powell
12. Conception
13. East Of The Sun
14. Heart And Soul
15. Willow Grove
16. Crazy Rhythm
17. Willow Weep For Me
18. Bean And The Boys
19. Lady Bird
20. Stairway To The Stars

Strictly Powell/Swingin' With Bud/Piano Interpretations By Bud Powell
Bud Powell - Piano
George Duvivier - Bass
Art Taylor - Drums

The Genius Of Bud Powell
Tracks 17 and 18:
Bud Powell - Piano
Ray Brown - Bass
Buddy Rich - Drums
All other tracks:
Bud Powell - Piano


In the chronicles of modern jazz music, the bop pianist Bud Powell was possibly the most significant keyboard player of the last half of the 20th century. Blessed with almost magical technique, he played at a torrential pace using horn-like single-note lines on the right hand, with irregular comping on the left, frequently flowing into double-handed block chords, all of which became emulated by a legion of pianists who followed in his footsteps.

In this Avid two-CD compilation, Powell's work is offered over the period from 1950 to 1957. For some inexplicable reason, Avid chose not to present the underlying albums in chronological order even though it would have given some context to his changing lifestyle. Additionally, it would have grouped his recordings by label: 1950-55 Norgran/Verve, and 1956-57 RCA Victor.

Strictly Powell is one of the two dates Bud recorded for RCA Victor and although this was a period when he was experiencing some emotional problems, this was not reflected in his playing, for the most part. In a combination of Powell originals and standards, he is engrossed in the music which is predominately in tempi that are not taxing his capabilities. Of the six standards, There Will Never Be Another You features Powell's block-chord style, and Lush Life is given a very pensive and tailored reading. However, on They Didn't Believe Me, Powell seems to lose his way and plays some clunkers. As for his own compositions, two are standouts: Blues for Bessie and Elegy. The former is an unprompted improvisation in the best 12-bar-blues tradition, and the latter shows Bud at his single-note playing best.

The Genius Of Bud Powell is a solo piano album (except for tracks 17 and 18), and was recorded in 1950/51, a period in his life when he was composing some of his better-known pieces, including Hallucinations (a.k.a Budo), which is offered in this album. He was also playing at what might have been close to the top of his game. The irritating part of these sides is that the originals were poorly recorded on acetate discs rather than tape, and the piano was decidedly out of tune. Powell's intensity and compositional underpinnings were clearly evident on Oblivion, Hallucinations and to a lesser extent on Parisienne Thorofare. Along with the astounding speed demonstrated on Tea For Two and Hallelujah, these cuts make compelling listening.

Swingin' With Bud, and Piano Interpretations By Bud Powell are trio sessions, with the former done in 1957 as the second part of his RCA Victor deal, and the latter in 1955 for Verve. While not masterpieces, both albums warrant attention. Powell is in strong form on the RCA sides, and somewhat more inconsistent on the Verve session. On Swingin', Bud's two handed approach is front and centre on Like Someone In Love, and both Duvivier and Taylor add an interesting rhythmic dynamic to Powell's speedy version of Salt Peanuts. An attractive contrast is offered between this fuller trio version of Oblivion, and that rendered on the solo album, which seems one-dimensional. Piano Interpretations leads with George Shearing's composition Conception and one of his signature tunes East Of The Sun. Both are nicely done with some Shearing flourishes thrown in. Coleman Hawkins' Bean And The Boys and the Tadd Dameron classic Lady Bird provide Powell with the setting to develop his bop lines with their atypical intervals and innovative phrasing, which are all part of his style.

Bud Powell died in New York City in 1966 at the age of 42. He bequeathed a heritage of recorded music, of which only a small part is presented here and for which Avid should be congratulated. The heartbreak is what he might have accomplished.

Pierre Giroux

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