Jazz Memories from Saint Germain

Maison de la Radio 1959

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Bud Powell — Director musical, pianista

Barney Wilen — Saxofón tenor

Georges Arvanitas — Pianista

Robert Garcia — Saxofón tenor

Bernard Vitet — Trompetista

Luigi Trussardi — Contrabajista

Baptiste "Mac Kac" Reilles — Baterista

Jacques Thollot — Baterista

Clark Terry — Trompetista

Pierre Michelot — Contrabajista

Kenny Clarke — Baterista

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Known as the Charlie Parker of the piano, Bud Powell was a towering jazzman who changed the way musicians see harmony. His life was marked by extreme success and, at the same time, plagued by illness and misfortune. Here, in 1959, he had just moved to Paris following more than a decade of seminal Blue Note recordings, as well as periods of hospitalization and treatment (including electroconvulsive therapy) for mental illness, with schizophrenia being one diagnosis. In Paris, however, he was just as dazzling and alive as ever in one of the last recorded performances he ever gave. 

The group he leads includes the inimitable Clark Terry on trumpet, a swing and bebopper who played with everyone from Duke Ellington to Count Basie, and mentored the likes of Quincy Jones and Miles Davis. Terry contributes a composition to the set list in the form of "Pie Hie." The ensemble also play a theme from Powell's peer Thelonious Monk, with "52nd Street" and a standard by one of Jazz' Mount Rushmore candidates, Dizzy Gillespie, with "A Night in Tunisia." Powell's own composition, "Crossing The Channel," gives him the chance to show off his harmony-laden, lightening-speed playing style.

This concert film, shot by the ever-present jazz director Jean-Christophe Averty, really captures jazz frenzy, shooting dancers in front of the band and special interviews with young French artists who jump on stage and play with the band. Jacques Thollot, a 13-year-old French drummer, cites Max Roach and Art Blakey as influences and shows amazing touch and confidence at such a young age.

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Thursday, February 29, 2024