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Birdland 1953: The Complete Trio Recordings

Bud Powell

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Album Review

The premiere bebop pianist Bud Powell, who was plagued by mental illness on and off after suffering through a police beating in 1945, had spent much of 1952 in an institution. Released in February 1953, he was in generally excellent form throughout the year, appearing at Massey Hall in a famous concert with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, and recording an album apiece for Blue Note and Roost. The music on Birdland 1953 is comprised of trio performances with Powell being joined by either Oscar Pettiford, Franklin Skeete, Charles Mingus, George Duvivier or Curly Russell on bass and Roy Haynes, Sonny Payne, Art Taylor or Max Roach on drums. The 42 selections on this two-CD set are taken from radio broadcasts that emanated from Birdland in NY between February and September 1953. Much of the music had previously been released but on bootleg LPs from such labels as Alto, Base, Session Disc and Queen Disc. The sound has been cleaned up and is now decent for the period if not state-of-the-art. More importantly, Powell sounds on his game, ripping into "Tea for Two," "I Want to Be Happy," "Ornithology" and such originals as "Budo," "Dance of the Infidels," "Un Poco Loco" and "Parisian Thoroughfare." He is intense on the ballads, blazing on the up-tempo numbers and sounds quite original throughout. Bebop fans will have to get this two-fer for it is one of the last times on record that Bud Powell can be heard in his playing prime.


Born: September 27, 1924 in Harlem, New York, NY

Genre: Jazz

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

One of the giants of the jazz piano, Bud Powell changed the way that virtually all post-swing pianists play their instruments. He did away with the left-hand striding that had been considered essential earlier and used his left hand to state chords on an irregular basis. His right often played speedy single-note lines, essentially...
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