eMusic Review 0
Pianist Bud Powell’s career had near cinematic arc. He had all of the technical tools needed to move into the front rank of players by the time he was in his late teens. He was the first pianist to truly understand all of the melodic, rhythmic and harmonic implications of the new music that wound up being termed bebop. If he fell slightly short of being Charlie Parker, he was at least the equal of Dizzy Gillespie and Fats Navarro, the only other players whose mastery of the idiom was complete. It could be argued that he was the most compelling player of the group — a man incapable of not showing his in-the-moment emotions in his improvisations.
But by the early 1950s, Bud’s mental health had deteriorated to the point where his technical brilliance had become imperiled. From there on, what becomes most valuable in his work is the degree to which this descent sits in a kind of artistic equipoise with his expressivity. Moods is Bud Powell’s creative midpoint; as such, it is in some ways his greatest album. It’s dark — very dark — but poised, heartbreakingly beautiful, harmonically challenging, and was recorded early enough in… read more »