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Bud Powell

Discussion in 'General Jazz Discussions' started by rgeberer, Jun 17, 2015.

  1. rgeberer

    rgeberer Member

    I'm only a "part-time" jazz fan (I grew up on classic rock), but I've been hearing about Bud Powell for years. I finally bought my first Bud Powell CD, "The Amazing Bud Powell" from the early 1950s. He's great, but it doesn't gibe with what I've read about his mental illness. These great solos must have been from before the time he started to break down, from when he was still relatively sane.
  2. Rudy

    Rudy ♪♫♪♫♫♪♪♫♪♪ Staff Member

    I don't know how mental illness might affect one person as compared to another--if someone is very focused on music, for instance, a mental illness might not manifest itself through the music as it would other parts of the person's life.

    One musician that comes to mind is Roy Brooks. He was somewhat unstable himself.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Brooks (it's a short read).

    I'd never heard of him until I caught one of his gigs at a jazz festival in Detroit in the mid 1980s. I wasn't there for his performance--I arrived early to get a better seat for the band that followed. He was up on the stage drumming, the band playing along. They had just settled into a nice groove in 7/4 when he starts waving his arms for them to stop, which the band did rather haphazardly. He had his drums piped through a little Fender guitar amp, with an echo box turned up to max. He would poke at a few drums tentatively--BLAP BLap Blap blap...blap...through the echo box--sounding totally lost, not even constructing any type of solo, then finally got back into some sort of rhythm and the band would find their way back in. Rinse, repeat: they just settle back into a nice groove again and he repeats it. It was quite a large ensemble as he has his Artistic Truth and Aboriginal Percussion Choir backing him up.

    I feel more sorry for the group's wasted efforts, and couldn't wait for him to get off the stage. He was way off his nut, but back then before having the information we have now, we chalked it up to an ego trip.
  3. LASaxman

    LASaxman Active Member

    A well known example of a jazz musician with mental illness is trumpeter Tom Harrell, who suffers from schizophrenia. I am not totally sure, but it doesn't seem to affect his music. At least he seems to maintain his musical career successfully both artistically and business-wise.
    Rudy likes this.
  4. Bluetrain

    Bluetrain Active Member

    jacksonville, fl
    Powell's playing didn't significantly deteriorate until the late 50s.

    Harrell's playing is fabulous. He is well medicated to deal with his illness. I saw him 5 times when he was with Phil Woods' quintet in the 80s. Here's an hour of that group in concert. You only have to listen to the first 4 minutes to heard what an awesome trumpeter he is.

    Two other jazz men who had mental illness were Thelonious Monk and Jaco Pastorious.
  5. jazzbill

    jazzbill Maitre d' Forums Staff Member

    Austin, Texas
    Phil Woods did a clinic here in Austin around 84 or 85 and had Tom Harrell in the group. When Tom was playing his horn he looked just like any other horn player. But when he wasn't playing he seemed a bit withdrawn. I got to meet him afterwards and he would shake your hand and then put his head down and not say anything. I do remember they were playing a tune at a ridiculous tempo and after playing a solo Harrell looked at Woods and shook his head and laughed and then immediately went back to his withdrawn state. But he's an amazing horn player and has overcome a lot in his life.

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