This Thelonious Monk be bop thumper has two distinct lives. The title refers in name to Monk’s musical soul mate Bud Powell and has a performance history spanning Monk’s entire career. In fact, “In Walked Bud” was first recorded during the fall of 1947 sessions that yielded The Genius of Modern Music -- his first sides as a bandleader. Then in 1968, Jon Hendricks added some spontaneously conceived lyrics to a version ultimately located on Underground (1968) -- one of Monk’s final studio albums accompanied by a band.
The quirky chord progressions and highly percussive nature inherent in Monk’s performance style is suitably matched to the equally freewheeling and serendipitous melody. There is an undeniable playfulness within the otherwise meticulously crafted phrases and careful syncopations. Even on the earliest recordings, the unique arrangement and delivery that would become synonymous with the name Thelonious Monk seems fully developed and equally honed. His uncanny ability to drive the tune melodically between the notes and phrases is wholly evident. As Hendricks so poignantly observes in his lyrics, Monk has the almost sonically psychic talent of “takin’ that note [that] nobody wrote [and] puttin’ it down.” Both the instrumental and vocal “In Walked Bud” have been subject to a seemingly infinite number of cover versions. The oddly at ease melody and frenzied musicality has likewise made it one of Monk’s most recognized compositions, ranking alongside “’Round Midnight” and “Straight, No Chaser”.