The Book Of Jazz - online reference book

Its Nature, Instruments, Sources, Sounds, Development & Performers

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&&                              THE INSTRUMENTS, THE SOUNDS, THE PERFORMERS
in the comprehensive book Hear Me Talkitf To Ya there is no tribute, no discussion of the plenary and pervasive control that made his the most meaningful as well as the most imitated piano style of the decade, A patient at mental hospitals intermittently since 1945, he has demonstrated in his lucid intervals an imagi­nation, fluency and utterly personal articulation that established him, figuratively and at times literally, as a member of the small band of geniuses that invested bop with its essential qualities from the outset. The others, Gillespie and Parker, John­son and Roach, ultimately earned some measure of the respect that was their due; Powell remains almost unknown to the millions for whom Gillespie is a household name, Already past his most creative years, still sick of mind and weary of soul, he is the symbol of a goal toward which a thousand pianists have striven since his first appearances along 52nd Street with the small combos of the mid-40s.
Bud Powell's gifts are threefold. As a composer he has shown himself capable of instilling within a three-minute framework a pattern of somber majesty, of incisive and bitter beauty encased by a superb sense of form: Glass Enclosure is the finest example. As an improvising jazzman he brought the horizontal, single-note-lme approach of Teddy Wilson under a newer and brighter floodlight. Where Wilson might have played with a keyboard composed entirely of gray keys, Bud's were unmis­takably black and white, edged with a sharp, percussive attack so exceptional that he himself has had difficulty in recapturing it in late years. At his rare optimum, Powell was capable of rivaling Tatum in speed of conception and execution. Often he would use the left hand only for an occasional incisive punc­tuation, but once, when his ambidexterity was challenged, he played an entire performance with his right hand behind his back and none of the facility was missing.
The Powell style having become the paragon for almost every young pianist, a long list can be drafted of those who have developed successfully in his direction. Only a handful of pianists could play authentic bop with any real conviction at the time of Powell's emergence, most of them men who worked