Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Happy Birthday Bud Powell

Last week marked what would have been the 83rd birthday of John Coltrane. As an avid reader of jazz writings on the internet, I saw how much publicity this event drew. While certainly a big occasion, I was shocked this morning when I discovered, via a Wikipedia browse, that last week also marked Bud Powell's birthday. While no one would argue against the influence Coltrane has had on jazz, neither would anyone argue against Bud Powell's influence - which may be greater - however, somehow, Coltrane's odd numbered birthday greatly overshadowed Powell's barely publicized, certainly momentous 85th birthday.

I find it shocking that despite the high regards with which jazz fans and jazz critics hold Powell, there was no online mention of this historic milestone.

I wonder why this is so.

Matthew Shipp posted his response to this on Justin Desmangles' Blog, "New Day." (http://sisterezili.blogspot.com/2009/09/matthew-shipp-justin-desmangles.html)

He wrote, "To answer your question about how Bud gets lost in the discourse -in jazz piano now everybody views things through a post-miles prism which means piano is viewed through the -keith-chick and herbie prism with people seeing bill evens as the father of that.
other than that now it is hip to view monk as a weird genius-and the marketing of that idea is easy because the
name-and the persona all fit together in a way where that idea can be marketed. So bud just becomes a bebop pianist in a lot of people's minds and to make matters worst when people think of bebop they think of bird and diz who are the salesman of the idea of bebop and who most people think of the founders of it. That is a paradox considering bud was the heaviest of all of them.
matthew shipp"

As a student of jazz in New York, a pianist of whom Powell is a main influence, I notice how many of my friends and fellow students listen to and are influenced by Coltrane. I also notice how few young pianists and musicians truly listen to Powell, but for some reason, always mention him as one of the "greats." It's as if somehow, in their education, the name Bud Powell has been put on a pedestal, but in all honesty, his music has barely been surfaced. It seems that to many, he has been dismissed as a Charlie Parker clone on the piano, a disciple of the bebop founder. However, in truth, Bud was one of the founders, he has many times "out-birded Bird," and is, in Matthew Shipp's opinion and certainly others', "the heaviest of them all."

Has Bud Powell become less influential over time?

I would love to start a discussion about why the 83rd birthday of John Coltrane has overshadowed the 85th birthday of Bud Powell.

Please post your comments and let's start a discussion!


Justin Desmangles said...

Thank you for clarifying these important points about Bud Powell and his legacy. Also, I appreciate the link to New Day Jazz, though it is Desmangles, rather than Dismangles.

Justin Desmangles said...

Thank you for posting this about Bud Powell. My name is spelled Desmangles, not Dismangles, though. Please correct this when you can.

Kaj Genell said...

I think Shipp is right. Bud is definitely heavy. He is outstanding in bebop for his ideas, energy and his swing. As much as Bud appreciated Mozart, Bud is Mozart to me. I listen to him very often, and he makes me kind of survive. He was a musican trough and hrough, and always lent on his solid education and his suberb talent. There is an honesty with his music that feels good too.
I am still- I am born in 1944 myself - buying apartment recordings and such with him. As for the birthday I am not sure he even has a proper grave yard. Anyone can tell me about that ?