Bud Powell: Just One of Those Things


Just One of Those Things


Bud Powell (piano)


The Best of Bud Powell on Verve (Verve 314 523 392)

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Bud Powell (piano).

Composed by Cole Porter


Recorded: New York, February 1951


Rating: 95/100 (learn more)

Bud Powell, like most of the first generation of bop keyboardists, tended to favor bass and drum accompaniment, and rarely recorded in a solo piano setting. But Powell's February 1951 session for Norman Granz finds the pianist on his own, and the results include some of the finest playing of his career. On "Just One of Those Things," Powell has eliminated all the Tatumesque trappings and cocktail piano mannerisms that sometimes bog down his solo work. Instead, he plays with a slashing right hand supported by sporadic left-hand voicings. The sound is stark and hollow, almost as if Powell follows an imaginary bassist and drummer in his head that the rest of us are not allowed to hear. It would be easy to pick out the flaws in this performance -- Powell's execution is a little sloppy -- but the pianist's intensity and sense of urgency demand our attention. This is bop in extremis, completely purged of the slightest sentimental tendency. Even today this music presents a prickly, avant-garde exterior that has not been dulled by the passing years. This is not jazz for casual listeners. But those who want to appreciate how the modernists shook up folks back in the day may want to check out this track for a sense of the revolutions promised by the bop pioneers.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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