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Music pianist Bud Powell picture (pic) and photo gallery, albums covers pictures.
Birth name: Earl Rudolph Powell.
Born: September 27, 1924 in New York City, USA.
Died: July 31, 1966 in New York City, USA.
Earl Rudolph "Bud" Powell was one of the most influential pianists in the history of jazz. Along with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie he was instrumental in the development of bebop, and his virtuosity as a pianist led many to call him "the Charlie Parker of the piano".
Powell's grandfather was a flamenco guitarist, and his father was a stride pianist. The family lived in New York City. His older brother William played the trumpet, and by the age of fifteen Powell was playing in his brother's band. Powell had learned classical piano from an early age before becoming interested in jazz, especially Art Tatum and stride pianist James P. Johnson. Younger brother Richie was also an accomplished pianist, as was schoolfriend Elmo Hope. Thelonious Monk was an important early teacher and mentor, and a close friend throughout Powell's life, dedicating the composition "In Walked Bud" to Powell. In the early forties Powell played in a number of bands, including that of Cootie Williams, and in 1944 his first recording date was with Williams's band. This session included the first ever recording of a tune by Monk, "'Round Midnight". Monk also introduced Powell to the circle of bebop musicians starting to form at Minton's Playhouse, and other early recordings included sessions with Frank Socolow, Dexter Gordon, J. J. Johnson, Sonny Stitt, Fats Navarro and Kenny Clarke. Powell soon became renowned for his ability to play accurately at fast tempos, and his inspired bebop soloing.
Powell's first session as a leader was in a trio with Curly Russell and Max Roach, recorded in 1947 but not released until two years later, by Roost. He also recorded a session with Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Tommy Potter and Roach during this year. In November 1947, he was admitted to Creedmoor Psychiatric Center, where he stayed for over a year, receiving electroconvulsive therapy which caused severe memory loss. The young Jackie McLean and Sonny Rollins became friendly with Powell on his release from the hospital, and Powell recommended McLean to Miles Davis. Powell suffered from mental illness throughout his life, possibly triggered by a beating by the police in 1945 after disorderly behaviour (although he had a reputation for strange behaviour prior to this beating, it certainly exacerbated his problems). He was also an alcoholic, and even small quantities of alcohol had a profound effect on his character, making him aggressive.
It is generally agreed that his best recordings are those made prior to 1954, both for Blue Note Records and for Norman Granz (at Mercury Records, Norgran Records, Clef Records and later on Verve Records). The first Blue Note session, in August 1949, features Fats Navarro, Sonny Rollins, Powell, Tommy Potter and Roy Haynes, and the compositions Bouncing with Bud and Dance of the Infidels. The second Blue Note session was a trio with Russell and Roach, and includes Parisian Thoroughfare and Un Poco Loco, the latter selected by literary critic Harold Bloom for inclusion on his short list of the greatest works of twentieth-century American art. Sessions for Granz (more than a dozen) were all solo or trios, with a variety of bassists and drummers including Russell, Roach, Buddy Rich, Ray Brown, Percy Heath, George Duvivier, Art Taylor, Lloyd Trotman, Osie Johnson, Art Blakey and Kenny Clarke.
Powell recorded for both Blue Note and Verve throughout the fifties, interrupted by another long stay in a mental hospital from late 1951 to early 1953, following arrest for possession of marijuana. He was released into the guardianship of Oscar Goodstein, the owner of the Birdland nightclub. A 1953 trio session for Blue Note (with Duvivier and Taylor) included Powell's composition Glass Enclosure, inspired by his near-imprisonment in Goodstein's apartment. His playing after his release from hospital began to be seriously affected by Largactil, taken for the treatment of schizophrenia, and by the late fifties his talent was clearly in decline. In 1956 his brother Richie was killed in a car crash alongside Clifford Brown. Three albums for Blue Note in the late fifties showcased Powell's ability as a composer, but his playing was nowhere near the standard set by his earlier recordings for the label. After several further spells in hospital, Powell moved to Paris in 1959, in the company of Altevia "Buttercup" Edwards, a childhood friend.
In Paris, Powell worked in a trio with Pierre Michelot and Kenny Clarke. Buttercup was keeping control of his finances and also over-dosing him with Largactil, but he continued to perform and record - the 1960 live recording of the Essen jazz festival performance (with Clarke, Oscar Pettiford and on some numbers Coleman Hawkins) is particularly notable. In December 1961 he recorded two albums for Columbia Records under the aegis of Cannonball Adderley - A Portrait of Thelonious (with Michelot and Clarke), and A Tribute to Cannonball (with the addition of Don Byas and Idrees Sulieman - despite the title, Adderley only plays on one alternate take). The first album was released shortly after Powell's death (with overdubbed audience noise), and the second in the late 1970s. Eventually Powell was befriended by Francis Paudras, a commercial artist and amateur pianist, and Powell moved into Paudras's home in 1962. There was a brief return to Blue Note in 1963, when Dexter Gordon recorded Our Man in Paris for the label - Powell was a last-minute substitution for Kenny Drew, and the album of standards showed him to still be capable of playing well. In 1963 Powell contracted tuberculosis, and the following year he returned to New York with Paudras. The original agreement had been for the two men to go back to Paris, but Paudras returned alone, and Powell died hospitalized in 1966 after months of increasingly erratic behaviour and self-neglect.
In 1986 Paudras wrote a book about his friendship with Powell, translated into English in 1997 as Dance of the Infidels: A Portrait of Bud Powell (the title is derived from one of Bud's compositions). The book was the basis for Round Midnight, a film inspired by the lives of Bud Powell and Lester Young, in which Dexter Gordon played the lead role of an expatriate jazzman in Paris.