Recorded between 1957 and 1964, Paris Sessions captures Bud Powell late in his career in a variety of settings, in the studio and live. This collection reissues only a few choice tracks from the numerous recordings made by the pianist's friend and guardian, Francis Paudras. While critics and fans have noted the erratic nature and hesitations of Powell's later work, Duck Baker argues in the liner notes that a number of these pieces show him in top form. There are pleasant takes on standards like "I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)" and "Satin Doll" with bassist Gilbert Rovere and drummer Kansas Fields offering backup. Powell methodically builds his solos on both pieces, slowly adding intricate fills and tasteful asides, but these mellow pieces never really take off. Powell finds his groove, however, on upbeat pieces like "For My Friends" and "Perdido," filling both with high-energy solos. There's a live, ten-minute take of "Taking a Chance on Love" with Zoot Sims sitting in, and a lo-fi version of "How High the Moon" with Dizzy Gillespie. There's a fine, short solo performance of "Bud on Bach" and a frantic take on "Be Bop," both captured at the Club St. Germain in Paris. While one might wish for better fidelity on several of the live cuts, the performances soar. Paris Sessions may fail to convince fans that Powell's later work matched his glory days, but it nonetheless stands as an enjoyable collection.
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AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.