The Pianist, Bud Powell: The Father Of Jazz

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Bud Powell was born in 1924 into a family of musicians. His father was a stride pianist, his older brother played trumpet, and his younger brother played piano as well. As early as the age of five, Powell was under classical instruction. While his father wished for him to learn the ways of Chopin and Bach, Powell leaned more towards the bluesy tunes of Theolonious Monk, who was the first to take notice of Powell’s talent at Minton’s Playhouse where both frequented in Powell’s teenage years. Powell joined his older brother’s band and later ended up leaving high school to join the swing band of Cootie Williams. Bud Powell is known as “the finest pianist of the bebop generation” and “arguably the most influential keyboard player of the past seventy…show more content…
The musical definition of “fugue” is “a contrapuntal composition in which a short melody or phrase (the subject) is introduced by one part and successively taken up by others and developed by interweaving the parts”( This definition fits the piece as well. Musicians often play on words in their piece titles and within their songs, and so I believe that is exactly what Powell was doing here with the change in spelling of “fugit”. Artists favor hidden meanings in their works and this was no different. It appears that Powell wanted all three meanings to be heard: “time flies”, the psychiatric impact, and the musical definition. I believe that Powell also wanted to show that while he suffered, his mental issues did not cripple his musical skill but seemed to bring him even more inspiration. “Difficult as it may be to imagine musical creativity taking place under these conditions, Powell seemed untouchably inspired,” (Jazz Essential, p 224). While the first definition examined speaks of losing one’s self in one’s mind, the other speaks of music. When Powell titled this piece, he not only meant that time flies. Or that he often loss sense of self due to mental ailments. It is my belief that he may have been meaning something along the lines of losing yourself in time when consumed by music. This theory is proved by a statement from the jazz critic Ira Gitler: “ . . .who observed him…show more content…
“Tempus Fugue-it” was recorded in early 1949 with the label Clef after Powell was released from Creedmore Sanitorium. This piece is darker in background content than many of his earlier pieces but not as dark or haunted as “Glass Enclosure”. The upbeat tempo combined with “with Baroque polyphony”—that is said to be familiar to Powell from his years of classical training on the piano—and the standard thirty-two-bar A A B A form reveals just how far Powell pushed his creative limits and succeeded in doing so (Jazz Essential, p 224). The overall harmony aligns with the musical definition of “fugue” in how the piano remains the focus yet the other instruments in the piece, the bass played by Ray Brown and the drums played by Max Roach, took on the task of weaving together the chords and random notes to create “complex chords, changes, and polyrhythmic ostinatos” (Jazz Essential, p
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