September 27, 1924 – July 31, 1966
Pianist Earl Rudolph “Bud” Powell was born on September 27, 1924 in New York City, New York.
Powell was the son of a stride pianist and the brother of Richie Powell, a bebop pianist.
Thelonious Monk befriended the young Bud and introduced him to the city’s burgeoning bebop scene, later composing “In Walked Bud” in his honor.
Bud quickly became one of the most acclaimed purveyors of bop, appearing on recordings as a leader and sideman.
Powell and his mentor Monk are considered to be the two preeminent pioneers of bebop piano.
Bud toured with Cootie Williams and appeared on a number of his Orchestra’s recordings in 1944, advancing in his career in May 1947 when he was selected to join the “Charlie Parker Quintet” featuring Miles Davis, Tommy Potter, and Max Roach.
Throughout his career Powell suffered from bouts of mental illness resulting in numerous stints in mental institutions beginning with a mid-1940s hospitalization in Bellevue.
Bud Powell would produce his best recordings between 1949 and 1953 released on the Blue Note, Clef, and Mercury labels.
Astonishingly, at the time of this recording Powell was in declining health as the result of a vicious attack at the hands of a policeman.
Powell had been struck in the head with a club when he attempted to intervene in a dispute between the police and Thelonious Monk backstage at a New York club.
After contracting tuberculosis in 1963 Bud Powell died from the illness on July 31, 1966.
“If I had to choose a single musician according to his artistic merit and the originality of his creation, but also for the greatness of his work, it would be Bud Powell. Nobody could measure up to him.” – BILL EVANS
The “Bud Powell Trio” perform at the Blue Note in Paris in 1959.
Bud Powell, piano
Pierre Michelot, bass
Kenny Clarke, drums