Bud Powell

Early Years of a Genius (1944-1948)

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This set is the first of ten CDs consisting of privately recorded tracks owned by Powell's friend Francis Paudras. All of the releases will be wanted by the artist's greatest fans, but some are better than others. Vol. 1 is the most historic, for ten selections feature the innovative pianist at age 20 in 1944 as a sideman with trumpeter Cootie Williams's Orchestra. There are some unique moments. Powell plays a duet with Williams on "West End Blues," joins in with Williams's sextet (which also includes altoist Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson and tenorman Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis) on "Smack Me," and backs guest Ella Fitzgerald on two numbers, in addition to playing six songs with the full big band. This valuable set concludes with versions of "Perdido" and "Indiana" that Powell performed at the Royal Roost on Dec. 19, 1948, with an all-star group including trumpeter Benny Harris, trombonist J.J. Johnson, altoist Lee Konitz, and clarinetist Buddy DeFranco among others. Bop collectors will have to get this one.