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                                    Bud Powell           

                                Bebop   (Fantasy Jazz)



ByAnne Farnsworth


        Fantasy Jazz compiles another set of early Bud Powell recordings in Bebop.  Originally recorded between 1948 and 1964, the sessions feature a host of luminaries; Johnny Griffin, J.J. Johnson, and Lee Konitz, are three of the eleven listed featured artists.  Although the nominal leader, on the first few cuts Powell is more of a unifying thematic force than a strong presence, functioning mainly as a strong sideman buried in the background mix with the rest of the rhythm section.

             Considered by many to be the greatest of the bop pianists, Powell has not always been served by the relentless recording and subsequent release of his work.  From the shimmering beauty of The Amazing Bud Powell volumes to drugged-out sessions on a tuneless piano in someone's living room, Powell's discography pits the brilliance of his talent against the venal interests of those more interested in making a quick buck than preserving the dignity of a man plagued by mental illness. 

             Fortunately, Bebop is a respectful, if familiar, documentation of Powell's work.  Bebop opens with Leonard Feather hosting a jam session at the Royal Roost.  The following cuts, "Perdido", "Indiana", and "Jumpin' With Symphony Sid", are familiar renditions of the bop standards.  A later Feather insert has him introducing Powell as the "bop pianists' favorite pianist" before the band launches into a blistering "52nd Street Theme".

             The second half of the CD features Powell's Paris based trio, allowing the listener to focus on his unique style of improvisation.  The final cut," I Remember Clifford", proves once again that Powell could often transcend out of tune pianos and archaic recording techniques with his acute sensitivity and the lyrical beauty of his lines.


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