Described by bandleader -- or rather co-bandleader -- Mel Lewis as "brilliant" in 1982, trumpeter Jim Powell should not be confused with closely named jazzmen such as the Jimmy Powell who rode the Count Basie bus. Excluding bizarre variants such as "Jimbo" or "Jamie," the trumpeter has been referred to under every possible variation of this name, although most often as Jim Powell. Discographer Tom Lord came up with a total of nearly two dozen recording sessions for trumpeter Jim Powell between 1977 and the mid-'90s. Also in Lord's dominion of recorded jazz artists are a James Powell on both flügelhorn and trumpet, hitting only twice between 1990 and 1996. Then there's Jimmy Powell, whom Lord credits for a single 1987 session, again on both trumpet and flügelhorn.
All are the same guy, a trumpeter who inspired the previously mentioned praise from Lewis when he came into the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra as a replacement for the dynamic Tom Harrell. In interviews, Lewis further described Powell as being in the style of Harrell; one thing these two trumpeters do have in common is a background in Woody Herman's big bands going back to the '70s, building up chops for the exciting encounters to come in the '80s. Further disturbing similarities could be gleaned fromLord's multiple listing of trumpeters under Powell's name, if it is indeed possible to be disturbed by anything in a mere discography -- Harrell, after all, has suffered from schizophrenia. The period of Powell's career most likely to have involved suffering, however, would have been his stint with notoriously demanding drummer Buddy Rich.