Bud Powell: Cleopatra's Dream
Bud Powell (piano)
The Scene Changes (Blue Note 80907)
Recorded: Englewood Cliffs, NJ, December 29, 1958
Rating: 94/100 (learn more)
The Scene Changes was Bud Powell's last Blue Note recording. Three months after the session that produced it, Powell went to live in France and did not return to the U.S. for several years. The Powell of the 1940s and early '50s may have consistently displayed more technique and fire, but on any given day in his later years, he could still play bebop with a clarity and originality that few could match. If anything, the absence of his earlier nearly out-of-control impetuousness was replaced by a more calmly focused, streamlined and unpretentious approach, manifest, of course, only when he was not being plagued by his psychological demons.
"Cleopatra's Dream" is a classic Powell composition, an upbeat minor theme with an appealingly uncluttered structure, almost Latin-sounding. Powell's rapid single-note lines are clearly and crisply articulated, and you can hear his wordless moaning commentary throughout. His stirring octave unison lines are well played, after which he becomes even more intensely involved, again at one point utilizing a 2-handed unison attack. His momentum is unflagging as he unequivocally shows doubters yet again that he is far from a has-been. Powell's Paris years would continue this unpredictable pattern of mediocrity and rejuvenation.
Reviewer: Scott Albin