Artist: Bud Powell
Put-it-on-a-Playlist: “So Sorry, Please,” “Get Happy,” “Tea for Two”
When I was sick recently with a bout of brown bottle flu, I wasn’t even able to move without yakking. My stomach was turning over and over, and I even swore never to touch liquor again. Through my pain, I could only muster up a few words: “Hey Siri, play Bud Powell.”
Who needs hair of the dog when you have Piano Solos #2? Powell’s playing style is energetic but also soothing. He points the way ahead toward hard bop, while rooting himself firmly in bebop ballad tradition.
Powell’s frenetic piano runs make use of arpeggio and chromaticism, the language of Charlie Parker being translated perfectly. “Tea for Two” and “Sweet Georgia Brown” could have been scored for alto sax.
With bassist Curley Russell and drummer Max Roach as his only accompaniment, Powell’s highly advanced style takes center stage. He is one of the most underrated of all jazz musicians, and the opening “So Sorry, Please” should explain all you need to know. Even in his covers of old jazz standards like “April in Paris,” Powell was far ahead of his time.
I listen to Powell’s Piano Solos frequently, and not because I frequently overdo it on the weekends. This music makes you feel good, lifting your spirits and dazzling you with its virtuosity. Best of all, it doesn’t make you dizzy.