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The Return of Mel Powell - Live Aboard the S/S Norway

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Album Review

The first jazz recording by pianist Mel Powell since 1955 (in the interim he gained a strong reputation as a modern classical composer), this CD also signalled the rebirth of Hank O'Neal's Chiaroscuro label in 1989. Recorded at the Floating Jazz Festival aboard the S.S. Norway, the set features Powell with altoist Benny Carter, guitarist Howard Alden, bassist Milt Hinton and drummer Louie Bellson performing six standard swing-era songs. Amazingly Powell, who had rarely played jazz or much piano during the previous three decades, sounds in near-prime form and the music is quite delightful. This CD concludes with a 20-minute "Jazzspeak" in which Powell discusses his life and his earlier decision to leave jazz.


Born: 12 February 1923 in New York, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '80s

One of the finest swing pianists and a prodigy, Mel Powell was playing piano and writing important arrangements for Benny Goodman by the time he was 18. He had previously played with Bobby Hackett, George Brunis, and Zutty Singleton (1939), was the intermission pianist at Nick's, and worked in the short-lived Muggsy Spanier big band. During his stay with B.G., Powell and the clarinetist struck up a lifelong friendship; among his arrangements for Goodman were "The Earl," "Mission to Moscow," "Clarinade,"...
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The Return of Mel Powell - Live Aboard the S/S Norway, Mel Powell
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