Although pianist Bud Powell succumbed in 1966 at the age of only 41 to the illnesses that had been haunting him for years, he managed to change the face of jazz music. Powell was one of the few musicians— including, among others, saxophonist Charlie “Bird” Parker, trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, and fellow pianist Thelonious Monk—to revolutionize jazz during the 1940s by inventing bebop, a modern sound that broke out of the confines of swing and established the musicians as not only entertainers, but artists as well. To commemorate Powell’s achievements and the seventieth anniversary of his birth in 1994, the Blue Note and Verve record labels released comprehensive compact disc boxed sets of his work: Bud Powell: The Complete Blue Note and Roost Recordings and The Complete Bud Powell on Verve.
Powell struggled to create his music in the midst of such personal demons as alcoholism, mental illness, and tuberculosis, as well as a largely unappreciative U.S. audience. He suffered a debilitating beating by police in 1945 in Philadelphia, which set off his subsequent
Born Earl Randolph Powell, September 27,1924, in New York, NY; died of tuberculosis, July 31 (one source says August 1), 1966, in Brooklyn, NY; son of a pianist; married Audrey Hill, 1953 (divorced); married Altevia Edwards (“Buttercup”), c. 1955 (marriage dissolved); children: (with Mary Frances Barnes) Celia, (with Edwards) John.
First appeared onstage as teen in Harlem, NY, 1939; played with Thelonious Monk at Harlem’s Minton’s Playhouse, early 1940s; toured U.S. and recorded with Cootie Williams’s orchestra, 1942–44; recorded with Dexter Gordon and Charlie Parker, mid-1940s; led trio Bud Powell and His Modernists, 1949–51; appeared regularly at Birdland in New York City; played with Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus, Max Roach, Sonny Rollins, J. J. Johnson, Sonny Stitt, and Fats Navarro in clubs and concert halls in New York City and Toronto, Canada, and on tour, late 1940s-1950s; played and recorded with Kenny Clarke, Pierre Michelot, and Niels-Henning Orsted-Pedersen, Paris, France, 1959–64.
quent lifelong health problems. Still, Powell—whose turbulent life was later used, along with that of saxophonist Lester Young, as a model for the character Dale Turner in the 1986 film Round Midnight —led his own bands, played for five years in exile in Paris, and pioneered a new style. One of his successors, pianist Herbie Hancock, noted Powell’s lasting significance in Down Beat: “He was the foundation out of which stemmed the whole edifice of modern jazz piano; every jazz pianist since Bud either came through him or is deliberately attempting to get away from playing like him.”
Earl Randolph Powell was born on September 27,1924, in New York City. The son of a man talented as a stride pianist, he began learning classical music as a child from his father. Powell left school at age 15 to devote himself professionally to his own piano playing and first appeared onstage as a teen in spots around Harlem and Coney Island, Brooklyn. Thelonious Monk, also not yet famous, tutored Powell at Harlem’s Minton’s Playhouse, where Powell became a regular feature and launched his career.
In the 1940s, Powell established himself as one of the leading figures of bebop. He began the decade, from 1942 to 1944, touring and recording with trumpeter Cootie Williams’s orchestra. In 1946, he recorded with Dexter Gordon, on Long Tall Dexter, and contributed to two cuts, “Cheryl” and “Buzzy,” on Charlie Parker’s Savoy sessions. Three years later, Powell found himself invited by the young Blue Note label to lead a group, Bud Powell and His Modernists, to produce albums for the label. Backed by drummer Max Roach and bassist Curley Russell, Powell recorded the five-volume Amazing Bud Powell.
If Powell made his name in the jazz community during the 1940s, he also suffered a pivotal crisis. James T. Jones IV of USA Today described the incident: “In 1945, a 21-year-old Powell received a Rodney King-like cop beating after he tried to help his pal and mentor, Monk, who was being harassed by police.” Most of 1945 passed with Powell recovering in the hospital from his severe head injury. From then on, the musician found himself shadowed by excruciating headaches, seizures, and generally erratic behavior that led him in and out of sanitariums, where, according to Time and New York Newsday, he experienced electroshock therapy and was once sprayed with water mixed with ammonia. He also developed a drinking problem, worsening later physical ailments.
Meanwhile, Powell and other modern jazz musicians were receiving an ambivalent response from American audiences. Many young white artists, intellectuals, and bohemians embraced bebop; in fact, they adopted the music as the theme of their “Beat generation” in the 1950s. Black youth, however, largely overlooked the modern jazz revolution in the 1940s and turned toward other forms, such as rock and doo-wop. In a reaction parallel to that of the bebop musicians themselves, these potential listeners rebelled against an earlier generation of jazz musicians—Louis Armstrong and Fats Waller, for instance—whom they believed represented “the old style of comic darky with rolling eyes and flamboyant manner,” according to James Lincoln Collier in Jazz: The American Theme Song. Black listeners would return to the genre in the mid-to late 1950s, when jazz musicians put forth a more consciously African American-centered, bluesy, and “hot,” or “hard,” sound.
Despite his crisis in 1945, Powell would become a leading jazz pianist in the decade following World War II. His trio, the Modernists, anticipated in their own 1949 sessions the hard bop style that would emerge later in the fifties. The records Bud’s Bubble (also called Crazeology and Indiana from those sessions showcase Powell’s own combination of right-hand melodies over complex and unpredictable left-hand harmonies. Un PocoLoco, Night in Tunisia, and Parisian Thoroughfare also shine brightly. “Frequently the face of his music is like a lie constructed out of bebop acrobatics, convoluted triplets, and finger-buckling scales attacked from as many angles as a Schoenbergian row,” wrote Village Voice jazz critic Gary Giddins.
Powell was one of the descendants of ragtime piano. Ragtime evolved from the Creole clarinet style and found its place in a number of schools across the country, including the New Orleans school, represented by the legendary Jelly Roll Morton; the “Pittsburgh circle,” starring Mary Lou Williams and modernist Errol Garner; and the “Eastern,” or “Harlem,” group, which included James P. Johnson and Fats Waller and from which emerged modernists Powell and Monk. “On the one hand,… players attempted the feat of adapting the piano to the vocalizing style of the other instruments (the so-called ’trumpet style’);… [on] the other hand, players exploited the capacity of the piano for a combination of technical brilliance and original harmonic experiments, which led logically to the modern pianists’ styles,” commented jazz historian Eric Hobsbawm in The Jazz Scene.
Powell’s Modernists brought in a number of star jazz players for their 1949 sessions. Trumpeter Fats Navarro, saxophonist Sonny Rollins, bassist Tommy Potter, and drummer Roy Haynes, for example, came together for the recordings Bouncing with Bud and Dance of the Infidels. Although Powell spent much of the years from 1951 to 1953 in a hospital, by 1953 he was once again playing and recording. A highlight from Powell’s career was a concert at Massey Hall in Toronto, Ontario, with Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, and Charles Mingus, recorded as The Greatest Jazz Concert Ever.
Toward the late 1950s, Powell began growing abusive and hostile toward his fellow musicians, and his relationships worsened. After another brief hospitalization in 1959, he moved to Paris to a glorious reception from the European jazz community. After three years playing there with American drummer Kenny Clarke and bassist Pierre Michelot, however, Powell again fell ill. The pianist’s new wife, Altevia Edwards, nicknamed “Buttercup,” and his friends in Paris, particularly the young graphic artist Francis Paudras, took care of him, but his health problems worsened. Powell contracted tuberculosis in 1963, his marriage broke up, and he again required treatment in a hospital. Homesick for New York, where many leading bop musicians performed a benefit concert at Birdland to help pay his medical expenses, Powell returned in 1964.
In his playing during his later years Powell still achieved a high level of artistry. Released almost a decade after his death, Bud in Paris demonstrates his changing moods. More than a ballad, “Autumn in New York” is a “minor epic,” according to Gary Giddins in the Village Voice. In contrast, “Crossing the Channel” presents what Giddins called “the urgent storytelling of a most idiosyncratic and argumentative artist.” The reviewer had only praise for the musician’s later sessions: “On those occasions, he made clear once again that he was … a volatile and original voice with an unmistakable urgency and diction of his own.” Powell’s playing reflected his physical condition. Although he had flashes of brilliance, he also floundered, barely keeping up with the melody. He died on July 31, 1966, soon after his return to New York.
The broad range of Powell’s musical opus was made available in 1994 on two archival compact disc sets from Powell’s two main labels, Blue Note and Verve. Los Angeles Times writer Leonard Reed reviewed the accomplishment presented on these collections, Bud Powell: The Complete Blue Note and Roost Recordings and The Complete Bud Powell on Verve: “These releases, in some cases wobbly and thin in their pre-stereo and pre-digital technologies, contain some of the most rigorously conceived and executed jazz ever recorded.” The promotion and distribution of the CDs marked Powell’s increased recognition from diverse audiences beyond jazz musicians and from devotees in the United States in the 1990s as well.
(With Dexter Gordon) Long Tall Dexter, Savoy, 1946.
(With Charlie Parker) Bird/The Savoy Recordings (includes “Cheryl” and “Buzzy”) Savoy, 1946.
Bud’s Bubble (Crazeology), Roost, 1947.
Indiana, Roost, 1947.
Bouncing with Bud, Blue Note, 1949.
Dance of the Infidels, Blue Note, 1949.
Tempus Fugue-it, Clef, 1949.
All God’s Chillun Got Rhythm, Clef, 1949.
Hallucinations, Clef, 1950.
Un Poco Loco, Blue Note, 1951.
Night in Tunisia, Blue Note, 1951.
Parisian Thoroughfare, Blue Note, 1951.
Tea for Two, Alto, 1953.
Autumn in New York, Blue Note, 1953.
The Glass Enclosure, Blue Note, 1953.
Jazz at Massey Hall, Fantasy/OJC, 1953.
The Bud Powell Trio: The Verve Sessions, Verve, 1955.
(With Niels-Henning Orsted-Pedersen) Bouncing with Bud, Delmark, 1962.
Bud in Paris, Xanadu, 1975.
The Amazing Bud Powell, Volumes 1 & 2, (1949–53), Blue Note, 1989.
The Amazing Bud Powell, Volume 3, (1949–53), Blue Note, 1989.
Bud Powell: The Complete Blue Note and Roost Recordings, Blue Note, 1994.
The Complete Bud Powell on Verve, Verve, 1994.
The Genius of Bud Powell, Verve.
The Greatest Jazz Concert Ever, Prestige.
Collier, James Lincoln, Jazz: The American Theme Song, Oxford University Press, 1993.
Groves, Alan, and Alyn Shipton, The Glass Enclosure: The Life of Bud Powell, Bayou Press, 1993.
Hobsbawm, Eric, The Jazz Scene, Pantheon Books, 1993 (first edition published by MacGibbon and Kee, 1959).
Lyons, Len, and Don Perlo, Jazz Portraits: The Lives and Music of the Jazz Masters, Morrow, 1989.
Dayton Daily News (OH), November 13, 1994.
Down Beat, September 8, 1966; September 22, 1966; October 20, 1966.
Jazz Journal, October 1966.
Jazz Journal International, June 1993.
Keyboard, October 1989.
Los Angeles Times, November 13, 1994.
Melody Maker, August 13, 1966.
New York Newsday, October 16,. 1994.
New York Times, August 2, 1966; October 12, 1986.
Chicago Sun-Times, November 13, 1994.
Time, October 31, 1994.
USA Today, October 11, 1994.
Village Voice, December 8, 1975.
Additional information for this profile was obtained from Blue Note Records publicity materials.
"Powell, Bud." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (January 15, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/powell-bud
"Powell, Bud." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved January 15, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/powell-bud
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Powell, Bud 1924–1966
Bud Powell 1924–1966
Jazz pianist and composer
A founding genius of bebop piano during the 1940s, Bud Powell’s musical contributions helped define modern jazz music. Absorbing the lessons of European concert music, jazz pianists such as Art Tatum and Thelonious Monk, and the music of alto-saxophonist Charlie Parker, Powell’s unique style served as a catalyst for modern jazz keyboard. An epitome of the tortured genius, Powell experienced psychological afflictions, intensified by substance abuse and electroshock treatments, which cut short a brilliant career. Because of Powell’s personal travails, jazz writers have often overlooked his monumental musical achievements. Never forgotten by fellow musicians for his contributions, he spent his last years in Paris and New York City suffering from mental illness which limited him to playing occasional club dates and concerts. Under the honorary guardianship of French jazz aficionado Francis Paudras, he formed a friendship that served as the basis for the 1986 film Round Midnight.
Born in New York City on September 27, 1924, Earl “Bud” Powell began playing piano at six years of age, and subsequently received seven years of formal pianistic training. Powell’s musical family included his father William, a talented stride pianist, brother William Jr., a violinist and trumpeter, and a younger brother Richie who became the pianist in the famed Clifford Brown/Max Roach Quintet. After dropping out of Dewitt Clinton High School at the age of 15, Powell played Coney Island clubs and Harlem nightspots such as actor Canada Lee’s Chicken Coop. As a teenager he first heard jazz, and fell under the influence of pianist Billy Kyle, a member of bassist John Kirby’s band who hailed from the school of Earl Hines. As jazz pianist Billy Taylor asserted in Swing to Bop, Kirby played a style that contained many “pre-bop” elements that helped bridge swing with modern jazz.
During the mid-1940s Powell met Thelonious Monk, the innovative composer and house pianist at Minton’s Playhouse, one of Harlem’s premiere birthplaces of bebop. After Monk first took him to Minton’s, Powell was urged by the older keyboardist to perform among the other visiting musicians who constituted the core of New York City’s bebop scene. As Thomas Owens asserted, in Bebop: The Music and Its Players, “There was a symbiotic relationship between Monk and Bud Powell,” that benefitted Powell in an informal instruction by his older counterpart. According to musicians like drummer Kenny Clarke, Monk gave Powell many of written arrangements because he believed the younger pianist was the only one capable of playing his work. Powell’s exceptional musical skills also astounded another member of Minton’s bebop circle, Miles Davis who, in his memoir Miles, recalled that “Bud Powell was one of the few musicians I knew who could play, write, and read all kinds of music.”
At a Glance…
Born Earl Rudolph “Bud” Powell, September 27, 1924, in New York City, New York; son of William Powell (a pianist) and Pearl Powell; married Frances Barnes; children: daughter Celia Barnes; married Audrey Hill 1953.
Career: At fifteen dropped out of high school to play local clubs; 1942-1944 performed with the band of Charles Melvin “Cootie” Williams; performed on New York City’s 52nd Street with various jazzmen; recorded with Charlie Parker and Dexter Gordon in 1946; 1949-1951 recorded as trio leader for Blue Note and Verve labels; 1953 appeared at Jazz at Massey Hall concert in Toronto, Canada; between 1953 and 1957 performed with a trio at New York City’s Birdland; in 1956 performed in a trio with Charles Mingus and Elvin Jones; toured of Paris with “Birdland 56” concert package; performed at the Club Saint Germain in Paris 1957; moved to Paris in 1959, where until 1964, he recorded and performed at clubs and concert dates throughout Europe; during tenure in Paris usually performed in a trio with Kenny Clarke and Peirre Michelot; returned to New York City in 1964 and 1965 occasionally performed at Birdland.
Awards: The Schaeffer Award.
Like numerous other young jazzmen of the 1940s, Powell fell under the influence of alto-saxophonist Charlie Parker. As Thomas Owens asserted in Bebop: The Music and Its Players, “Powell was one of ‘Bird’s children’ as surely as were any saxophonists of the time. He, more than any other early bebop pianist, transferred Parker’s melodic vocabulary and phrasing to the piano.” But as Gary Giddins asserted in the liner notes to The Genius of Bud Powell, “it would be a mistake to assume that Powell did nothing more than adopt Parker’s percepts to the piano.” As Giddins added, “The surface of his music seems frequently to be a mask made up of be-bop acrobatics, convoluted triplets, and flashy chromatic runs. Lurking below, however, is a confluence of emotions, ranging from self-lacerating ferocity to an elegant benignity more associated with [pianist] Teddy Wilson.” Powell’s close friend, Francis Paudras, also countered the notion that Powell simply translated Parker’s music into the pianisitic idiom. Privy to tapes of Powell’s playing recorded during the mid 1930s, Paudras, in his memoir Dance of the Infidels, asserted that the pianist’s style had already possessed modernist elements and that it matured as a result of an independent vision which absorbed numerous musical sources.
Apart from the younger bebop innovators, Powell’s most profound musical influence was Art Tatum, a virtuoso pianisitic talent whose music combined the elements of stride, swing, and European concert music. As pianist Erroll Garner explained in Notes and Tones, “To me Bud was the second greatest thing to Art Tatum.…Bud came along later and added to what Tatum had.…He was another Tatum, only much more modern.” In summation of Powell’s impact on bebop pianists, writer Whitney Baillet wrote in his book, American Musicians II, that during “the mid-1940s, Powell who came out of Kyle and Tatum, hypnotized a new generation of pianists. His single-note figures.…particularly at up tempo.…were nervous, hard, driven,” which revealed “a coarse quick-wittedness.”
Between 1943 and 1944 Powell, while still a teenager, performed and recorded with the band of trumpeter Cootie Williams, who served as his legal guardian. “When I was with Cootie Williams in 1944,” recounted Powell in Dance of the Infidels, “I did most of the arrangements for the band ‘cause I was the only one who could write music.” Through Powell’s insistence, Williams’ band recorded Monk’s classic ballad “Round Midnight.” By the mid 1940s, Powell’s musicianship found him abundant work on New York City’s famed 52nd Street with musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie, Don Byas, Dexter Gordon, J.J. Johnson, and Sid Catlett. In 1946 he recorded sessions for the Savoy label with Dexter Gordon, and the following year with Charlie Parker which yielded the sides “Donna Lee” and “Cha-sin’ the Bird.” That same year, Powell recorded Monk’s “Off Minor” nine months before its composer.
In the midst of establishing a music career, Powell suffered from physical and mental ailments. Withdrawn and aloof, Powell possessed a complex personality, and his penchant for alcohol only increased his unstable condition. In January of 1945, he received a blow on the head from a Philadelphia policeman, and was arrested for disorderly conduct. Powell received only superficial treatment for his head wound, and was often plagued with severe headaches. He was admitted to Bellevue for mental health treatment, and was subsequently confined to Creedmore Psychiatric Center.
Following his release from Creedmore, Powell recorded with the Blue Note label. Created from recording sessions held between 1949 and 1951, the album The Amazing Bud Powell Volume I showcased such Powell classics as “Bouncin’With Bud,” “Dance of the Infidels,” and “Un Poco Loco.” Between 1950 and 1951, Powell also recorded for the Verve label. These sessions were featured on the album Genius of Bud Powell. Accompanied by bassist Ray Brown and Buddy Rich, Powell cut the sides “Tea For Two,” “Hallelujah,” and “Parisian Thoroughfare.” The remaining solo piano numbers, recorded in February of 1951, included the original compositions “Oblivion,” “Dusk in Sandi,” and Hallucinations.”
Arrested on a trumped up narcotics charge in 1951, Powell was placed in Bellevue’s psychiatric ward. He was then admitted to Pilgrim State Hospital, where he underwent electroshock treatment before being transferred to Creedmore. Although Powell would still produce brilliant performances his playing, like his troubled personal life, became increasingly unpredictable. After his release from Creedmore in February of 1953, the State of New York declared Powell legally incompetent. Oscar Goodstein, owner of New York City’s famed Birdland nightclub, became Powell’s guardian and provided him with steady musical work. As bassist George Duvivier, who played with Powell at Birdland, related in his autobiography, Basically Speaking, “When I joined [Powell], he was already in the latter years of his career, and slowly deteriorating mentally. It was sad. There were nights when it was pure genius.…We had no communication-only the music.” Despite his increasing illness, Powell continued to record many fine Blue Note sides. His playing on sessions held in 1951 and 1953 which constitute The Amazing Bud Powell Volume 2, reveal a brilliant instrumentalist on such numbers as “Night in Tunisia,” and the original compositions “Parisian Thoroughfare” and “Glass Enclosure,” a piece which Powell claimed to describe his taste for drink.
On May 15,1953, Powell performed with the quintet of Parker, Gillespie, Mingus, and Roach at the Jazz at Massey Hall concert in Toronto, Canada. Recorded by Mingus and released on the Debut label, the date included a quintet release and a Powell trio performance, The Amazing Bud Powell at Massey Hall. On March 4, 1955, Powell was reunited with Parker, Mingus and Gillespie for a concert at Birdland. While on stage Powell insulted the saxophonist, who was ill. The two men began to exchange curses. Powell pounded his fists on the keyboard, and left the club. Eight days after the concert, Charlie Parker died in a New York City apartment. After Parker’s death, Powell and Mingus formed a trio with drummer Elvin Jones. After Mingus’ departure from the group in 1956, Jones continued to perform with Powell. In Notes and Tones, Jones, though in awe of Powell’s musicianship, told the book’s author Art Taylor that he “always had the impression that Bud had been hurt so much. He was like a delicate piece of china. I think he was an extremely sensitive person, a very beautiful person. I think he was a genius in what he was doing. His ideas about modern music were revolutionary.”
The State of New York revoked Powell’s need for legal guardianship in 1956, a decision that allowed him to travel to Europe as part of a package jazz tour, “Bird-land 1956.” During his short stay, he performed with a trio at a Paris nightclub, the St. Germain. In 1957, Powell returned to the St. Germain and received a hero’s welcome. Jazz aficionado Francis Paudras, who was in attendance that evening, recounted in his memoir Dance of the Infidels, “The music he played was elusive but so appealing, and in it I felt his suffering.” Powell recorded the Blue Note album, The Scene Changes, in 1958 with Taylor and bassist Paul Chambers, an effort that recaptured some of his earlier brilliance. Booked for an engagement at the Blue Note in Paris, Powell, accompanied by his girlfriend Buttercup and her young son Johnny, left for France in 1959.
While at the Blue Note, Powell performed with a resident trio comprised of drummer Kenny Clarke and Pierrre Michelot. Nicknamed the Three Bosses, the trio, noted Clarke’s biographer Mike Hennesey in Klook, marked “the golden age of jazz in Paris and the presence of Kenny Clarke and Bud Powell at the Blue Note.…was unquestionably a key factor in the high level of jazz activity in the French capital.” While living in Paris Powell often embarked on European tours, and made guest appearances with visiting American musicians. In 1959, he sat in with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers at the Theatre des Champs-Elyees. The following year, Powell appeared as a guest with Charles Mingus’ band at the Antibes Jazz Festival. This concert was later captured on the Atlantic album, Mingus Live at Antibes. In the recording’s liner notes, Robert Palmer wrote, “The pianist is in a deliberate mood here, phrasing in a blocked-out, infinitesimally behind-the-beat manner that brings forth the Powell-Monk relationship to mind. His style is leaner and less like a steamroller than in his earlier years, and there are a few occasions when his articulation is not all it could be, but these are the kind of quibbles only a pedant would take seriously. The man is playing music of a very high order.” In 1960, Powell participated in a live recording with legendary tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins and, the following year, recorded with a trio for the Mystic Sound label.
While in Paris, Powell did not find a respite from his personal troubles. His bouts with alcoholism and its unpredictable effects alarmed fellow artists and club owners. Saxophonist Jackie McLean, in Jazz Masters of the Forties, related how “all Paris knows Bud-when I say Paris, I mean all the jazz people and artists, and they know its not a good idea to give Bud anything to drink.…One glass of brandy can completely flip him around. I’ve never seen juice affect anyone like that.” Under the harsh dominance of his girlfriend Buttercup, who garnished his wages, Powell was given doses of an anti-schizophrenic drug that nearly incapacitated him. In 1962 Francis Paudras, who had struck up a friendship with Powell, discovered that his friend had been admitted to a psychiatric ward in Paris. After securing Powell’s release, Paudras served as his honorary guardian. Powell’s troubled life in Paris is recounted in Paudras’s memoir, Dance of the Infidels, which details Powell’s troubled existence, and his effort to look after the welfare of a musician whose brilliance he ranked with Debussy and Ravel. Paudras’s memoir subsequently inspired Bertrand Tavernier’s 1986 film Round Midnight, in which the main character, played by Dexter Gordon, emerged as a composite of Powell and saxophonist Lester Young.
In May of 1963, Powell provided the piano accompaniment for Dexter Gordon’s album Our Man in Paris. Powell’s performances with Kenny Clarke and Pierre Michelot, described by Ira Gitler in Jazz Masters of the Forties, revealed “a flowing line of improvisation, even if the old fire is not there.” In 1963 Powell contracted tuberculosis and, in October of that year, Oscar Good-stein held a Birdland benefit concert to help pay for the ailing pianist’s medical expenses. Although he had planned to come to America for a brief visit, Powell left Paris in 1964 and never returned. As Tyler Stovall commented, in his study, Paris Noir, “Paris helped restore Bud Powell but could not save him.…”
Accompanied by Paudras, Powell arrived in New York on August 1,1964. Powell played an extended engagement at Birdland where, in March of 1965, he appeared at a concert commemorating the tenth anniversary of Charlie Parker’s death. During the summer of 1965, Powell discovered that he had severe liver damage. He continued to perform, but his musical skills were severely reduced. On July 31,1966, Powell died in New York City’s Kings County Hospital. An estimated 5,000 people lined the streets to bid farewell to Powell as his body passed in funeral procession. The procession was led by a Jazzmobile on which Barry Harris and Lee Morgan played Monk’s “Round Midnight,” “Dance of the Infidels,” and “Bud’s Bubble.”
As jazz writer Ira Gitler noted in his work Jazz Masters of the Forties, “Despite the deterioration suffered by Bud Powell through his many and varied encounters with illness, his mark has been ineradicably stamped on the music of his native country.” As the founder of an entire school of modern jazz piano, Powell’s music has inspired musicians such as Bill Evans and Cecil Taylor. He remains an important influence for all who perfrom post-bebop acoustic jazz piano.
The Amazing Bud Powell Vol. I, Blue Note,
The Amazing Bud Powell Vol. 2, Blue Note,
The Genius of Bud Powell, Verve, 1950, reissue 1988.
Jazz at Massey Hall Vol. Two, Bud Powell Trio, Debut (recorded 1953) reissue Original Jazz Classics, 1991.
Strictly Powell, RCA, 1957.
Swingin’ With Bud, RCA, 1958.
The Scene Changes, The Amazing Bud Powell, Blue Note, (recorded 1958) reissued 1987.
Portrait of Thelonious Monk, Columbia, 1961.
The Complete Bud Powell on Verve, Verve, 1994.
The Complete Blue Note (C-D Box set), Blue Note 1994.
Jazz Profile, Blue Note 1997.
Young Bud, Indigo, 1999.
The Quintet, Jazz at Massey Hall, Debut (recorded 1953) reissue 1989.
Dexter Gordon, Our Man in Paris, Blue Note (recorded 1963) 1987.
Mingus at Antibes, Atlantic, 1976, reissued 1994.
Baillett, Whitney, American Musicians II: Seventy-One Portraits in Jazz, 1996, p. 455.
Berger, Edward, Bassically Speaking: An Oral History of George Duvivier, The Scarecrow Press, 1993, p. 91.
Davis, Miles, with Quincy Troupe, Miles, The Autobiography, Simon & Schuster, 1990, p. 60.
Hennesey, Mike, Klook: The Story of Kenny Clarke, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1990, p. 152.
Gitler, Ira, From Swing to Bop: An Oral History of the Transition of Jazz in the 1940s, Oxford University Press, 1985, p. 103.
Gitler, Ira, Jazz Masters of the Forties, Collier Books, 1966, pp. 110-130.
Notes and Tones: Musician-to-Musician Interviews, expanded edition, Da Capo, 1977, p. 225.
Owens, Thomas, Bebop: The Music and Its Players, Oxford University Press, 1995, p. 146.
Paudras, Francis, Dance of the Infidels: A Portrait of Bud Powell, translated from the original French by Rubye Monet English translation edited by Warren Bernhardt, Da Capo, 1998.
Stovall, Tyler, Paris Noir: African Americans in the City of Light, Houghton Mifflin, 1996, p. 241.
Additional information for this profile was obtained from the liner notes by Robert Palmer to Mingus at Antibes, Atlantic Records, and the liner notes by Gary Giddins to The Genius of Bud Powell, Verve Records.
"Powell, Bud 1924–1966." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (January 15, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/powell-bud-1924-1966
"Powell, Bud 1924–1966." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved January 15, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/powell-bud-1924-1966