March 30, 2017

Earl Randolph “Bud” Powell is today’s entry in BBR piano week.  Bud started as a stride man in Cootie Williams’ band but helped invent bebop with his fast hands and apprenticeship under Dizzy Gillespie. When it came time to choose between his two mentors, his mom convinced him to stay with Williams, thinking the more staid leader would be the safer choice. Wrong, mom. Bud got drunk at a Cootie date in Philly and some train security cops beat him up, causing head damage which would result in psychiatric problems after which he was never the same.  But his talent and playing were so superior it dotted his discography with one-of-a-kind moments live and on record until his death in the 1960s. His brain was so damaged at the end though he couldn’t remember new songs so he just played standards.

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