martedì 4 ottobre 2011

Wail: The Life of Bud Powell

Sul magnifico blog Do The Math, è stato pubblicato un lungo post di Peter Pullman sulla vita di Bud Powell, in occasione dell'87° anniversario della nascita del pianista morto nel 1966.
Pullman sta per pubblicare una straordinaria biografia del pianista dal titolo Wail: The Life of Bud Powell a cui ha dedicato anche un sito internet.
"I was working in Verve Records' reissue department when, in 1994, the opportunity arose for the label to assemble all of its Bud Powell recordings (including all alternative and breakdown takes), for a CD box-set presentation. Michael Lang, who headed the department, was receptive to my offer, to interview musicians and help to put together photos and other graphics for a lengthy, accompanying booklet to the five CDs. He insisted that the booklet have a biographical essay, too, and that I write it.
The set was nominated for a Grammy, in the Best Liner Notes category. I went to the awards ceremony, where I met a number of musicians, including Horace Silver, who'd written an essay for the set. (The Powell lost in its category to a Louis Armstrong-reissue project.)
I also met, at the ceremony, Celia Powell, Bud's daughter, who warned me about trying to get at the truth about her father. She said that his life story had many question marks, and that if I were to try to answer them I would follow many false leads and meet with a lot of dead ends.
That challenge I sought to undertake, from about 1996: to see if I could get past those dead ends. The first thing to do was to get informed about Powell's beginnings in Harlem. Celia had advised me to set his early years against the backdrop of the Harlem renaissance, as he was raised in an environment in which lived and worked not only so many great musicians and composers but, as well, painters, poets, and others who aspired to greatness. I undertook learning an informal history of Sugar Hill, the Harlem neighborhood that Powell spent most of his upbringing in. I visited the grounds of the church and schools that he attended, and got access to their transcripts. I educated myself about the many local venues in which musicians hung out in that era -- the speakeasies and after-hours places as well as the once-established clubs and ballrooms. I even read fiction (e.g., Claude McKay and Rudolf Fisher) of the era, to get a picture of what, for instance, rent parties were like.
I widened my inquiry, in my desire to understand Powell's beginnings, to those Harlemites who'd known him even casually, as a kid in the neighborhood. (Remember, Bud Powell came from a small family, and one of his two brothers had died in 1956. His mother died in 1961 and, by the time that I began my quest to learn about his life, his father was dead. I learned as well that his other brother, who had decades earlier distanced himself from everyone connected to the Bud Powell story, died in 1995.)
At the same time, I began my investigation of the mental-health world of the Forties and Fifties, as I knew (inchoately; in some ways, inaccurately) that Powell had been incarcerated in various places for long stretches of time. I interviewed psychiatric nurses as well as MDs, and I began to build my case for access to the files that certain institutions had kept on him (I'd assumed, rightly as it turned out, that these files hadn't been destroyed). I successfully petitioned two hospitals to see what they had on him and, eventually, won a case in State Supreme Court. This allowed me to read a file on Powell that Office of Mental Health, based in Albany, New York, had kept sealed (hitherto in perpetuity)....."

Continua a leggere l'articolo sul sito Do The Math

Ecco un video del trio di Bud Powell che presenta una indimenticabile versione di Round Midnight:

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