Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Stride to Bop

Listening to the Ultimate Bud Powell, a best-of selection made by Chick Corea. As far as ultimate goes it's a decent attempt, but it's missing classics like "Un Poco Loco" and "Glass Enclosure," and some rare gems like Powell playing Monk tunes.

Is there any such thing as the definitive Bud Powell collection? The thing about Powell recordings is that when he was on he was right on, and when he was off he was way off. From the Blue Note sessions The Amazing Bud Powell is about as good as it gets. On Verve Corea's selection is a fine place to start.

Anyway, every time I listen to Powell I am blown away by the power of his mighty, mighty left hand. Dang. Did anybody have a left hand like that? Mary Lou? James P? Art Tatum? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Powell is not usually regarded as a stride pianist, but that left hand of his sure did stride. One rap against him, unfair in my opinion, is that his left hand was monotonous, or that he was too attached to the drone. Actually his left hand was facile and strong. A lot gets left out, as was the bebop style, but it's unfair to criticize Powell as a "one-handed" pianist. He could play the changes faster than anybody, and when he leaned on the drone, he meant it. The sad fact is that much of the criticism directed at Powell was motivated by envy, because any pianist in that tradition knew for sure that Bud Powell had a mighty, mighty left hand. It's sad because of the effect such criticisms had on Powell, a delicate soul by any account.

posted by Fido the Yak at 12:20 PM.


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