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Jazz Giant
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on March 24, 2001
this new cd release confirms Bud's place in the greats of jazz music. While his presence was reduced in the recent Ken Burn's epic on the history of jazz, (not Bud did not even get a "greatest hits" cd in that series), here he proves his status as one of the archetics of be-bop, and earns a place in the trinity of bop along with Dizzy and Bird. Bud's music, influenced by his early study of classical music, especially Baroque, layers rythems and melodies into a complex web of sound. Bud was one of the best and the selections on this cd will please and delight any fan of jazz, new or old. A true classic and (in this day of Kenny G), one of the best reissues of the year.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on December 11, 2000
You won't have understood Bud Powell's music, nor his legacy, without having heard these tunes, which are all superb. Any pianist worth her or his salt has struggled through at least a handful of these. We don't complain about "background noise" on important re- cordings which were made before the dubious advent of perfectly controlled digital recordings. Instead, we are thankful that these recordings were made at all. This is as recommended as it gets. Your record collection will ne'er be perfection...
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on September 20, 2008
Anyone interested in "Jazz Giant" would be far better off with the less expensive Bud Powell "Complete 1947-1951 Blue Note, Verve & Roost Sessions" compilation instead. And here's why:

1. The Blue Note/Verve/Roost compilation contains exactly the same material as "Jazz Giant" with the same personnel from the same recording sessions (trio sessions with Powell, Ray Brown & Max Roach in 1949; and Bud, Curly Russell & Roach in 1950).

2. "Jazz Giant" contains only 13 tracks. The Blue Note/Verve/Roost compilation contains 45 tracks.

3. The sound quality on the BN/V/R compilation is surprisingly bright, clean and present (a 24 bit remastering), especially considering the fact that these recordings were made some sixty year ago.

4. The BN/V/R compilation cost me six dollars less than the amazon price for "Jazz Giant."

On top of all this, the BN/V/R compilation, a 2-CD Spanish import (from the Jazz Factory), includes all of Bud's trio and solo studio sessions--all 34 of his sizzling trio pieces, all eleven of his stunningly beautiful solo pieces--for Blue Note, Verve and Roost from 1947 to 1951, including eleven wonderful Powell originals.

None of these solo pieces are included on "Jazz Giant": "A Nightingale Sang in Berkely Square," "Just One of those Things," "The Last Time I Saw Paris," "Yesterdays," "Over the Rainbow," "It Could Happen to You," and five lovely Powell originals: "Parisian Thoroughfare," "Oblivion," "Dusk in Sandi," "Hallucinations" and "The Fruit."

These eleven solo pieces alone would make the BN/V/R complilation worthwhile, but the additional 34 trio tracks (only 13 of which are included on "Jazz Giant") make it an obvious choice.

Of the two dozen trio pieces included on the Blue Note/Verve/Roost compilation, but not included on "Jazz Giant," there are quite a few I wouldn't want to do without, especially the Powell originals "Bud's Bubble," "Un Poco Loco" (three takes), my personal favorite "Parisian Thoroughfare" (in both solo and trio sessions), perhaps the first recording ever of Monk's "Off Minor," as well as two takes of "Ornithology."

There are three periods of Bud Powell's work as leader: his early period, 1947 to 1953, which is his most consistently amazing. Bud's middle period, 1954 to 1958, the first half of which (1954 to 1956) is his most consistently disappointing--clunking, uninspired, mediocre. And Bud's late period, with some of the best tracks in his career coming from concert and studio sessions recorded in Europe between November 1959 and August 1964, and some of the most disappointing work coming from September 1964 on, with Powell's ill-fated return to New York.

And Bud is at the peak of his powers on these trio and solo pieces from 1947 to 1951. His inventiveness here is at least the equal to that of his legendary quintet work at the Birdland concert in May of 1950, with Charlie Parker and Fats Navarro (arguably the greatest recorded jazz concert ever). Indeed, Powell is perhaps the only other bebop musician who performed on the same extraordinary level as that of Bird. Which is to say, the performances on "Complete 1947-1951 Blue Note, Verve & Roost Sessions" are among the most masterful, the most intricate, the most engaging in the history of jazz.

One last thing (especially for those unable to locate the 2-CD set described above): As of this writing (Sept 2008), the "Complete 1947-1951 Blue Note, Verve & Roost Sessions" is incorrectly listed at amazon as the "Complete Blue Note and Verve [IMPORT]."
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Five Essential Bud Powell Studio Recordings on CD:

1. "Complete 1947-1951 Blue Note, Verve & Roost Sessions," a 2-CD set from the Jazz Factory, which includes all of Powell's stunning trio and solo sessions for Blue Note, Verve and Roost from 1947 to 1951. Nice sound quality, indispensible Bud. And a lot of it, 45 tracks--34 trio pieces, 11 solo--including eleven, lovely Powell originals. One of the supreme achievements in the history of jazz.

2. "Tempus Fugue-It," a 4-CD set from Proper Box, covering 1944 to 1950, which includes Bud's 1949 quintet work with Fats Navarro and Sonny Rollins (also available, with alternate takes, on "The Amazing Bud Powell, Vol.1"), his 1949-1950 quartet work with Sonny Stitt, his 1947 quintet work with Charlie Parker and Miles Davis, his 1944 work with Cootie Williams, his 1946 work with Dexter Gordon, with Sarah Vaughan, with J.J. Johnson, and with the Bebop Boys (with Kenny Dorham, Sonny Stitt and Fats Navarro), his May 1950 quintet work with Charlie Parker and Fats Navarro recorded live at Birdland (one of the greatest concerts in jazz history), as well as his trio work from 1947, 1949 and 1950 (also available on "Complete 1947-1951 Blue Note, Verve & Roost Sessions," as described in item #1 above). Perhaps the best compilation of the wide range of Bud's early work as leader from 1947 to 1950, and his very early work (before becoming a leader) from 1944 to 1947.

3. "The Amazing Bud Powell, Volume Two," from Blue Note, trio work with George Duvivier on bass and Arthur Taylor on drums, recorded at WOR Studios in NYC in August of 1953. Includes the Powell originals "Audrey" and "Glass Enclosure." Good sound quality, Bud at his lyrical best. Just lovely.

4. "A Portrait of Thelonious," from Columbia, with Pierre Michelot on bass and Kenny Clarke on drums, recorded in Paris in December of 1961. Lovely sound quality, definitive interpretations of Monk, Bud at his swinging and lyrical best. Priceless.

5. "The Scene Changes," from Blue Note, trio work with Paul Chambers on bass and Art Taylor on drums, recorded at Van Gelder's NJ studio in December of 1958. Very good sound quality, nine Powell originals, swinging and sizzling Bud.
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The Best of the Rest of Bud Powell Studio Recordings, Available on CD:

6. "Bud!," from Blue Note, trio work with Paul Chambers on bass and Art Taylor on drums, and (on three tracks) quartet work with Curtis Fuller on trombone, recorded at Van Gelder's NJ studio in August of 1957. Very good sound quality, five Powell originals, inventive and bluesy Bud.

7. "A Tribute to Cannonball," from Columbia, quartet work with Don Byass (ts), Pierre Michelot (b) and Kenny Clarke (d), and (on four tracks) quintet work with Idrees Sulieman (t), recorded at Studio Charlot, Paris, in December of 1961. Lovely sound quality. Byass is on fire, and so is Bud.

8. "Blues for Bouffemont," from Black Lion, trio work with Michel Gaudry (b) and Arthur Taylor (d), recorded at Acousti Studios in Paris, July of 1964, and (on three tracks) with Guy Hayat (b) and Jacques Gervais (d), recorded live at Edenville, France, August of 1964. Nice sound quality in the studio, decent sound at Edenville. Three lovely, late-period Powell originals, swinging Bud.

9. "Bud Powell in Paris" (not to be confused with Xanadu's live "Bud in Paris"), from Wounded Bird Records, trio work with Gilbert Rovere on bass and Kansas Fields on drums, recorded in an unnamed studio in Paris in February 1963. Produced by Duke Ellington, with the only extant recording of Bud playing "Satin Doll," along with the Powell originals "Parisian Thoroughfare" and "B-flat Blues." Very good sound, lovely Bud.

10. "Our Man in Paris," from Blue Note, quartet work with Dexter Gordon (ts), Pierre Michelot (b) and Kenny Clarke (d), recorded at CBS studios, May of 1963. This is Gordon's album, with Bud in a supporting role, but it's a classic, and Powell is just wonderful.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 23, 2007
All the stars of the Universe is my rating for this album from Bud. Bud together with Monk and probably Tadd Dameron, is bebop piano. Period. This album shooted Bud on the top stairs of bebop pantheon. I can't judge this album ... it's a masterpiece of the twenthieth century, how could you rate it simply "five stars". We are way over here. In this album you'll find some of Bud wildest interpretations of standard tunes and some of his wonderful compositions such as Celia or The Fruit. This is something that has to be pointed out clearly, Bud was not only the greatest bop pianist but a fantastic composer too. He has been one of the few who has equalled Parker and Dameron in the bop lines writing. Bouncing with Bud, Dance of the infidels (not presented here), Hallucinations, Tempus fuge it, Celia, The fruit and many more form alltogether the picture of an impressive composer with an unlimited fantasy and creativity (not mentioning the monster chops Bud had at the piano). I can suggest this album to every jazz lover, but in particular to those so in love with the new generation of pianists ... all the Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett "alumni" from scandinavia. Come back to the root. Bud is the man. A strange fact. I have a version of this album made for the sudamerican market which has 20 tunes. There are 7 more tunes after Body and soul, they are taken from different sessions and actually they are published in the "The Genius of Bud Powell" album on Verve. Those tunes are: Oblivion, Dusk in sandi, Hallucinations, The fruit, A Nightingale sang in Berkley square, Just one of those things, Last time I saw Paris. The booklet doesn't say almost anything about these tunes (some of them are Bud alone), but the quality of this music I can Judge by myself .... stellar. Jazz giant is a masterpiece, buy it don't esitate.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 18, 2004
It would be difficult indeed to think of a jazz piano tune as exciting as the principal track on this CD, "Tempus Fugue-it." If there was ever any doubt in anyone's mind about Bud Powell's position in the jazz piano pantheon, this track should clear that up. It is simply a perpetual motion cascade of ideas presented with crystal clarity. It is as stirring a performance by a jazz pianist as you will ever hear.
As an observation, compare the track with Horace Silver's "Safari," also a magnificently moving solo piece, on his first Blue Note album, "The Horace Silver Trio," which captures a similar mood through a different approach, that is part barrelhouse, part Bud. In the end, Bud was, and is, the man!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on July 10, 2001
This collection of tracks, as much as any other, captures Bud Powell at the top of his form. Powell was the overlooked equal of Parker in terms of sheer musical importance and artistry, and pianistically more than a match for Art Tatum. These early Verves are sublime, almost inhumanly so.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 18, 2013
When it comes to music, I certainly admire my fair share of jazz pianists. Primarily Thelonius Monk and McCoy Tyner, and others like Jaki Byard & Horace Silver. But I rarely buy albums featuring piano trios. The main reason being they lack the interplay and creative energy that you get out of the sounds from a saxophone or trumpet in group settings. Plus the notes don't bend on a piano (though I swear Monk found a way to do it). This Bud Powell collection is the exception. It doesn't need to be said, but Bud Powell was a jazz genius. A virtuoso performer as well as a gifted composer. He was able to emote - with both velocity and graceful agility - the kind of spontaneous imagination expressed by Charlie Parker. Powell's playing, and the quality of these recordings, is among the best jazz music ever put to record. With the incomparable Max Roach on drums and Curly Russell & Ray Brown splitting bass duties, this album showcases Bud's astounding musical talent. I'm a huge Clifford Brown fan and love his version of "Cherokee" but Powell's rendition here makes Brownie's version seem almost tame in comparison. "Tempus Fugit" is another incredible piece, almost dizzying in its rhythmic velocity and use of scalar flights and runs (rivaling perhaps even the great Art Tatum). Most of the remaining songs on JAZZ GIANT are up-tempo, but there are three ballads including the Powell original, "I'll Keep Loving You," an absolutely beautiful composition (and as enchanting as anything Bill Evans ever recorded). The only negative I can think of: Max Roach, who is arguably the greatest and most innovative drummer from the bebop era, gets hardly any opportunity to add to the musical "dialogue." But then this is Powell's stage, not Roach's. In any case, Roach sounds superb and his dynamic phrasing and accents provide the perfect complement to Powell's relentless attack on piano. There are a few popular jazz pianists like Oscar Peterson and Red Garland that I find predictable and uninventive. Bud Powell is on the opposite end of that spectrum: extraordinary, imaginative, mesmerizing, and intense. While there are many other great collections of Powell's music (as pointed out by another reviewer), these recordings highlight Powell at the height of his musical prowess. Phenomenal music by a truly phenomenal musician. Jazz giant indeed!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I am one of the few who thinks Bud exhibited extraordinary powers until near the end. However, I also recognize that he had a peak era and I believe this may be it. Although the album was not released until 1956 the tracks were recorded about a year apart in January through May 1949 sessions and a single session in February 1950.

As for eloquently dissecting the tracks as others here have so ably done I invite you to run through the sound samples. Those short snippets say in a few seconds what it would take me a thousand words to describe - and I would still fall short. The best I can do is utter some superlatives that would mean nothing in the larger scheme of things. Trust your ears and the sound samples.

Most discographies cite a single session in February 1949 and a single one in February of 1950. The truth is that the first six tracks were scattered across three different sessions in NYC, all performed by Bud backed by Ray Brown on bass and Max Roach on drums (except Bud's solo performance of I'll Keep Loving You). The sessions were not well documented, so approximate dates are:

January-February, 1949 for tracks 1 and 2.

February, 1949 for track 3.

February-May, 1949 for tracks 4 through 6.

The remaining tracks were recorded in NYC on some unspecified February 1950 date with Bud backed by Curly Russel on bass and Max Roach on drums for all tracks except Yesterdays, which Bud plays solo.

This album is essential for fans. It's truly the 'belle epoque' of Bud's career, and evidence of a great man in the fullest command of his powers.
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on July 9, 2000
Genious and tragic life... Bud Powell was born in a musicianfamily and learned a rudiment of piano from his father. At the age of10 Bud could play any song Art Tatum, Theloneous Monk, or whatever song he listened to. His professional carrior started very early. Bud brought Charlie Parker's concept in piano jazz - left hand simply plays chords and right hand creates saxiophone like melody line. Together with Charlie Parker and Theloneous Monk, Bud Powell founded Bebop style. His tragedy started in Belvue where he tried to save Monk and got caught by cops. Cops beat his head so badly that Bud's tragic life in mental hospitals started there. Over 20 years psychiatrists had destroyed Bud's talent and health with strong drugs and electric shock. Bud's health was deteriorated quickly and finally in 1966 Bud passed away in TB and malnutrition. Performances in this CD are of Bud's best time - sufficiently matured but his talent was not yet completely destroyed by psychiatrists. Bud's talent and contribution to modern jazz are respected by generations of jazz men, such as Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson, Erroll Garner, Keith Jarret, and live in these recordings forever.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on February 24, 2000
Some great recordings (e.g., Celia) and no bad ones. Background noise is a little excessive on a few tracks. The *really* great stuff is on Blue Note, ABP, vols.1,2, but this is good if you want more.
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