Friday, May 13, 2011

song of the week 19: bud powell - bouncin' with bud

Been "doing some jazz" this week, thanks to a visit to Ronnie Scott's to listen to the most excellent resident band performing various Count Basie goodies. The whole of the 1957 Atomic Mr Basie album (a.k.a. "E=mc²") got a good airing as did several of the songs from the Sinatra at the Sands album--recorded with the 1966 Basie big band line-up--Iain Mackenzie stepping up for vocal duties on "Come Fly With Me", "I've Got You Under My Skin" and a few others.

This week's musical gem though comes courtesy not of Basie, nor Sinatra, but of pianist Bud Powell whose Blue Note "Best Of" album is one I've been dipping into lately.

Powell led a troubled life. He was horribly beaten on the head by racist police in his late teens and consequently suffered bad headaches and mental illness until his untimely death at the age of forty-one. His style was hugely influential: he abandoned the "stride" technique which had been prevalent in piano jazz up until then and began instead to use the left hand to play only sparse accompanying chords. He also occasionally drew on influences from classical music, as on the Side Two opener "Bud on Bach".

In Bertrand Tavernier's 1986 film Around Midnight, Dexter Gordon plays a character who is partly modelled on Powell. The movie is based on the true-life story of the friendship between Powell and Parisian jazz fan Francis Paudras. This trailer is a bit cheesy but it gives a flavour of some of the great music in the film. It's well worth seeing if you haven't done so already...

Track One on the "Best Of Bud Powell" album is an upbeat number and features Sonny Rollins on tenor sax and Fats Navarro on trumpet. Enjoy...

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