Mel Powell

Unavailable Mel Powell

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Unavailable Mel Powell Review

by Richard S. Ginell

These are some nifty West Coast small-group sessions and solos that once appeared on a series of Capitol 78s and were gathered together in one batch only in 1983 -- with two unreleased tunes, "You Better Not Mess With Me" and "If Dreams Come True," thrown in. Powell's piano is always astonishing, always swinging, full of erudite turns of mind and a mastery of almost every then-current piano style (for example, "Way Down Yonder In New Orleans" evokes Art Tatum in the solo intro and Teddy Wilson in the ensemble passages). The rapid-fire, stride-to-bop work on "Hallelujah" is a rip-roaring treat, and elsewhere there are withdrawn hints of the classical influences that would soon pull him entirely away from jazz. Alas, the title of this reissue proved prophetic, for these sessions are now, once again, unavailable (though the LP pressing does turn up secondhand), thus reducing the already tiny supply of Powell-led jazz sessions even more.