"Live in Lausanne 1962," from Stretch Records, contains one of five essential Bud Powell concerts now available on CD.
The twelve tracks feature Bud in a trio session with Bob Jacquillard on bass and Mike Stevenot on drums, recorded on January 31, 1962 by Lausanne Radio. Yes, it's late Bud, but there is a mythology regarding his late period that simply does not hold up to examination. Some of the best tracks in Powell's career come from concert and studio sessions recorded in Europe between November 1959 and August 1964. Yes, there are some disappointing late dates (especially from September 1964 on, with Bud's ill-fated return to New York), and, yes, his early period as leader, 1947 to 1953, is consistently amazing, but the most consistently disappointing work--clunking, uninspired, mediocre--comes from 1954 to 1956, which is the first half of his middle period, 1954 to 1958. But when Powell left for Paris in 1959, it marked the beginning of one of the most remarkable periods in his music life.
And Bud's playing is absolutely lovely in Lausanne in 1962. The sound quality may be the best of that on any of Powell's live recordings. Included are "Anthropology," "Billie's Blues," "Lover Come Back," "Round Midnight," "How High the Moon/Ornithology," "All God's Children," "Woody n You," "Confirmation," "I Remember Clifford," "Just One of those Things," "Evidence," and "Blues in the Closet." The tracks don't include any Powell originals, but the playing is just so swinging and upbeat and beautiful, it's not only one of my favorite late-Bud concerts, it's one of my favorite jazz albumns, ever.
Five Essential Bud Powell Concerts Available on CD:
1. Birdland, May 17, 1950, the legendary quintet work with Bud, Charlie Parker on alto sax, Fats Navarro on trumpet, Curley Russell on bass, and Art Blakey on drums (available on RLR's 2-CD set "Charlie Parker: Complete Live at Birdland" and Proper's 4-CD set "Charlie Parker: Chasin the Bird," and five of the fifteen tracks are also available on Proper's 4 CD-set "Bud Powell: Tempus Fugue-It"). Poor sound quality, but Bud, Bird and Fats are on fire at Birdland. Arguably the greatest recorded concert in jazz history.
2. Massey Hall, May 15, 1953, another legendary quintet with Bud, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, but it is in the trio pieces that Bud really shines, with Charles Mingus and Max Roach (available on the Jazz Factory's "Complete Jazz at Massey Hall"). Very good sound quality, considering the time period.
3. Birdland radio broadcasts, 1953, trio pieces from various dates in February, March, May and September of that year with various personnel, including Oscar Pettiford, Roy Haynes, Charles Mingus, Art Taylor, George Duvivier, and Max Roach (available on Fresh Sound's 2-CD set "Birdland 1953: The Complete Trio Recordings"). Poor sound quality, but indispensible Bud. And a lot of it, some 42 tracks of Powell at his best.
4. Hot Club, Geneva, February 1, 1962, trio pieces with M. Cortesi on bass and Jackie Cavussin on drums, in decent but not great sound quality (available on Gambit Records' "Live in Geneva"). Bud sizzles like it's 1953 or 1950. With two bonus tracks featuring a duet: Bud and Johnny Griffin on tenor, recorded in Paris on February 14, 1960. Just priceless.
5. Lausanne Radio, January 31, 1962, Bud with Bob Jacquillard on bass and Mike Stevenot on drums, and with lovely sound quality (available on Stretch Archives' "Live in Lausanne 1962"). Swinging and upbeat and one of my favorite concert performances. Period.
The Best of the Rest of Bud Powell Live, Available on CD:
6. Essen Jazz Festival, West Germany, April 2, 1960, Bud with Oscar Pettiford on bass, Kenny Clarke on drums, and (on four tracks) Coleman Hawkins, in good sound quality (available on Black Lion's "The Complete Essen Jazz Festival Concert"). Hawkins is just wonderful, but Bud is at his best on those tracks without CH.
7. Cafe Montmartre, Copenhagen, April 26, 1962, Bud with Niels-Henning Orsted on bass and William Schioffe on drums, in good sound quality (available on Delmark's "Bouncing with Bud"). Swinging and upbeat and just lovely.
8. Paris, Club Saint-Germain in 1957 and 1959, La Radio Television Francaise in 1959, Blue Note Cafe in 1959 and 1961, trio, quartet, and quintet sessions with various personnel, including Pierre Michelot, Kenny Clarke, Clark Terry, Barney Wilen and Zoot Sims (available on Pablo's "Parisian Thoroughfares"). The six tracks from the Club Saint-Germain are among my favorites. Most tracks have suprisingly good sound, a couple less so. But Bud's playing is sizzling throughout.
9. Paris, duets, trios, and quartets from sessions at the Blue Note Cafe and other unspecified clubs in December of 1959, and February, June and October of 1960, with Pierre Michelot on bass, Kenny Clarke on drums, including two lovely quartet tracks with Barney Wilen on sax, and two amazing duet tracks with Bud and Johnny Griffen on sax, in poor sound on some tracks, decent sound on others (available on Xanadu's "Bud in Paris"). At times sizzling, at times lyrical, but beautiful Bud through and through (the two duet tracks are also available on Gambit Records' "Live in Geneva," as noted in item #4 above).
10. Club Kavakos, April 5, 1953, Washington DC, Bud with Charles Mingus and Roy Haynes (available on Collectibles' "Inner Fires"). Poor sound quality. Exceptional Bud. But just a little too much drum solo for my taste. Others may find this concert as rewarding as the extraordinary Birdland broadcasts of 1953 (see item #3 above).