- File Size: 1912 KB
- Print Length: 403 pages
- Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0985141816
- Publisher: Peter Pullman, LLC; 1 edition (February 14, 2012)
- Publication Date: February 14, 2012
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B0079NR9IC
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #754,822 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
Wail: The Life of Bud Powell Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
I've been a Bud Powell fan since buying the 12-inch LP of his early Blue Note sessions when it was released in 1955. About 20 years ago I began and ultimately completed a quest to find and listen to every recording of Bud ever released, including bootlegs, as well as many private recordings that have never been made available to the public. I've read every book and article I could find about Bud, but compared to Pullman's biography everything I had read before merely scratched the surface.
Whether you are interested in plumbing the depths of the short but intense life of this musical genius, whose period of greatest brilliance lasted only a few years, or are more broadly interested in the history and development of modern jazz, this book is not to be missed. You will be a witness to the daily, and nightly, comings and goings of all the innovators of the bop era, including Bud's most important mentor Thelonious Monk and Bud's rivals for the position of the leading pioneer of modern jazz, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. The love-hate relationship between Bud and Bird is especially fascinating.
Bud's successful and relatively happy years in Europe and his final tragic return to New York and Birdland in 1964 are also thoroughly explored, as is Bud's long history of mental illness compounded by severe alcoholism and to a lesser extent the drugs that played such a large role in the early development of modern jazz. Issues of race that inevitably permeated a movement dominated by blacks artistically but by whites commercially are handled with candor and sensitivity.
No book is perfect and I would quibble with Pullman's decisions, which he explains in his preface, to avoid the term African-American in favor of his own construct "afram" and his refusal on principle to include the word "the" which is customarily used before names of nightclubs and other institutions, even when people he is quoting use the article routinely in the same paragraph in which he eschews its use. I found both idiosyncratic usages to be unnecessarily distracting, but a small price to pay for the opportunity to experience what is otherwise a masterpiece of biographical and historical writing.
But more negatively there are several frustrations, some more serious than others. At the lower end, Pullman's use of 'afram' as a cute neologism for either 'African American' or 'black' (take your pick) grates. More serious is the preference for an 'E book' format rather than a 'real book' edition. This means a loss of some of the latter's benefits - an index, the ability to check footnotes, while maintaining place in the text. When combined with two sets of 'footnotes' - explanatory notes and source notes, (which also often include explanations) - this makes for difficult reading and academic use. But perhaps most important for historical scholarship, is the lack of sourcing or full explanation for key points. Often only direct quotes are 'sourced', leaving other problematic claims in the text unsourced or justified by any explanation. Thus we read that Powell's tune 'Coppin' the Bop' is a reference to heroin use, with the clear implication that 'bop' was a coded reference to heroin. If this were true it would be of great significance in explaining the name, at least, for the new style. But there is no explanation for what at first sight is an exaggerated claim. 'Coppin' clearly has drug references, (as did many of the other titles from this crucial period - 'Good Kick', ‘Groovin' High', 'High on an Open Mike') , but to imply that the word 'bop' itself implies drug use is a serious analytic point which demands greater explanation. The book has too many of these assumed assertions, some of which are simply ‘hangovers’ from previous decades of uncritical 'scholarship'. It is as if Pullman, while doing a most useful and important job in constructing a new and more detailed chronological of Powell's life, is satisfied to repeat with the old bebop myths, which are not directly influenced by his research.
Thus we have an uneven book. At its best it is offers much more detail on this elusive pianist, and enables a tentative alternative account of how bebop was constructed and developed. On the other hand, much of this new detail is uncritically assimilated into an old bebop hagiographic narrative.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Peter Pullman's Wail: The Life of Bud Powell is a gripping presentation of a man who surely suffered within the clamor of his apparent silence – a silence...Read more
Puts Powell in context with his contemporaries and includes information on the...Read more
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