As bop piano goes, Thelonious Monk had the ideas and tunes, but Bud Powell had the chops. More than anyone, he created bebop piano, influencing everyone who came after, partly by adapting saxophonist Charlie Parker's mercurial wit, speed and timing to the keyboard. (Hear Parker's "Ornithology.") His right hand melodies dart and zag like Bird, but his left was another story. Pre-bop, most pianists kept a regular rhythm going in the bass. Bud's southpaw rapped out terse punctuations, for a leaner, looser approach that became second nature to jazz pianists. (His elliptical friend Monk was likely one inspiration there, and on Bud's advanced harmonies.) Powell's lines sing, and he wrote fleet, nifty tunes: "Un Poco Loco," "Parisian Thoroughfare." Psychological problems marred much of his later work, but these early sides for trio (with Roy Haynes or Max Roach on drums) and quintet (adding trumpet spitfire Fats Navarro and young tenor Sonny Rollins) are essential listening.
By Charles Farrell on 10.07.11 in Reviews
Pianist Bud Powell's career had near cinematic arc. He had all of the technical tools needed to move into the front rank of players by the time he was in his late teens. He was the first pianist to truly understand all o...
By Kevin Whitehead on 05.16.11 in User's Guide Hubs
Ask a fan to name a label that typifies jazz, they'll likely reply with two words. Blue Note set the standard for jazz recording by the 1950s, with a stunning run of hard bop classics: bebop's virtuosity tempered with go...
By Kevin Whitehead on 01.01.05 in Spotlights
The act of playing any musical instrument is part transcendental and part physical. Transcendental, because on one level the instrument's a mere vehicle for conveying ideas born in a musician's brain: "Put a C9 chord exa...
By Ron Hart on 02.02.15 in Features
Celebrating Blue Note's 75th anniversary by examining its relationship with hip-hop