Blue Note Records: The Biography (4)

On August 6, 1949 Blue Note Records recorded the last bebop session of the decade with pianist Bud Powell (1924 – 1966). Producer Alfred Lion enlisted Fats Navarro on trumpet, a nineteen-year-old saxophonist by the name Sonny Rollins, with Tommy Potter on bass and Roy Haynes on drums. The group was named by Blue Note as “Bud Powell’s Modernists”. Before recording for Blue Note, Bud Powell had a bad experience behind him. When touring with Cootie Williams in 1945 he ended up one night drunk and was severely beaten by the police and soon afterwards hospitalized for two and a half months in a psychiatric hospital. His mental problems were a live long burden to Powell who received electroconvulsive therapy and medication for schizophrenia. His medication was also the cause that his technique deteriorated and a 1965 concert in Carnegie Hall in was a disaster. Bud Powell died in on July 31, 1966 due to tuberculosis, malnutrition and alcoholism.

In spite of all that, Bud Powell is regarded as one of the greatest Bop pianists of all time. He was a Thelonius Monk protégé, with a very distinctive approach of the right hand and very sensitive to percussive delivery. He had a great admiration for Charlie Parker and translated his ideas to the piano, which made him a very distinctive representative of the Bop generation. He was the first pianist who recorded Monk’s “Round Midnight”. In the YT video is a performance of Powell’s interpretation of that great composition. And watch a very young bassist by the name of Niels Henning Orsted Pedersen.

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