Recorded on May 24, 1958 at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey
Pianist Bud Powell's two recording sessions for Victor during 1956-57 resulted in 22 selections; this CD contains 18 of them. Powell was not in the best of shape during this period and he is erratic in these trio outings with bassist George Duvivier and drummer Art Taylor. Quite frequently a brilliant chorus is followed by one in which Powell gets lost, making the performances very interesting, to say the least.
- Scott Yanow (All Music Guide)
========= from the cover ==========
The line that separates the jazz instrumentalist from the jazz composer is thin, nebulous and easily negotiable. In the chapter of The Book of Jazz devoted to the composers and arrangers I opened with this quotation from Tony Scott: "It all starts with the soloist. What he plays today the arranger writes tomorrow." Just as the arranger imprints his own musical identity on any work he orchestrates and is thus in effect a composer, it is no less firm a rule that the composer in jazz, more often than not, is simply a soloist documenting his improvisations.
We have seen examples throughout the history of jazz. Early in Ellington's career, solos created spontaneously in his band evolved into full-scale compositions. Charlie Parker's unforgotten "Anthropology" started life as the final ad lib chorus on a Bird record of a different tune. By the same standard it is a matter of record rather than of theory that Bud Powell has been essentially a composer as long as he has been a creative jazz pianist.
The role of the jazz pianist as composer has been recognized more completely in some performers than in others who may have spent less time composing in the formal sense of the term. Art Tatum, technically the best-equipped pianist in jazz, almost never recorded a composition bearing his own byline, not because melodic invention was outside his scope but because he preferred to improvise within the framework of a known standard theme on which his variations, all melodic entities themselves, thus had an easily discernible point of reference. In the so-called modern jazz era Thelonious Monk was the first to earn dual recognition and is today perhaps even better known as composer than as soloist. Horace Silver has worked his way into this twofold acceptance from the other direction; once thoroughly adopted as a pianistic force he was able to stress his writing ability and soon was exercising it with fast-increasing frequency and effectiveness.
Bud Powell, perhaps because of the extraordinary degree of his dominance as a solo influence in the first years of bebop, never was primarily thought of as a writer; yet those who have followed his career and development must know that in two of his most memorable recordings, "Un Poco Loco" and "Glass Enclosure," both on this label, the roles of improviser and composer were invaluably intermingled; in the latter work improvisation was, in fact, only present in the sense that Bud's personal touch and phrasing lent the performance an extemporized quality; the work was one that he had been preparing and developing for some time.
The present album is the first for which Bud formally composed all the tunes; all the opening-closing themes were set on paper before he entered the studio, though in some cases the harmonic line was given to the bassist verbally. Of course everything in between the slices of prepared Toast in these sandwiches is strictly improvised meat.
I have written, in annotating earlier Powell albums for Blue Note, of Bud's sensitivity, of his emotional problems and of the importance he attaches to every factor attending a recording session - the accompanying musicians, the freedom to choose his own material and take his own time, and perhaps most important of all, the need to feel wanted, understood and appreciated by those for whom he is working Perhaps it is because the first great solo sessions he recorded almost a decade ago were made for Blue Note before the sympathetic ears of Alfred Lion (and the camera eyes of Francis Wolff) that Bud has remained curiously capable of reserving his best efforts for Blue Note.
Of the two musicians working with him on this occasion it need only be observed that this was, for both Philly Joe and Sam Jones, their first record date with Bud, an event for which they had waited as a young supporting actor might hope some day to be seen on Broadway with the Lunts. Because Philly Joe is a drummer long associated with a highly virile and extroverted style, it is essential to add that his discretion in underlining Powell's performances do him special credit on these sides.
"Buster Rides Again" is a Latin-tinged blues, with a melody that evokes the mood of the Afro-Cuban bands, making extensive use of tonic, dominant and flatted seventh. Sam Jones establishes a rumba beat, Philly Joe makes intricate use of cross rhythms and in his solo instills something of the occult, mysterious aura of a tribal message. Bud's blowing on this track maintains a firm grip on two concurrent realities: the necessity to lend authenticity to the Latin flavor and the need to keep swinging.
"Sub City," a medium-bright 32-bar theme, uses a pedal point note (on the dominant) as an important accent in the exposition of the melody. On his solo work here Bud maintains a mood of fiery, dynamically subtle single-note lines in which the sense of a process of immediate creativity is constantly present; not only can one not predict where the next note will fall (as one can too often with so many of his imitators) but it is equally impossible to forecast the particular manner in which he will strike it - staccato or legato, syncopated or as part of a group of even eighth notes or of some other rhythmic conformation. Unpredictability may not be an essential of jazz genius, but it certainly helps. In one passage Bud plays locked-hand chords in a manner more often associated with George Shearing (with whom, perhaps surprisingly to some, Bud has a mutual admiration society, each having respected and recorded compositions by the other). Actually neither Powell nor Shearing originated the style, which began with Milt Buckner in the early 1940s but Bud, one need scarcely add, molds it to his own completely personal use.
Sam Jones's solo is underlined by Philly Joe's brushes swinging evenly; Philly has a solo, including a striking six-against-four passage, before the theme is brought back.
"Time Waits," the title song of the set, is the only ballad of the set, a melodic vehicle played with firm yet somehow gentle emphasis in a manner that draws attention to its attractive chord changes perhaps even more than to the melodic line. This track presents an aspect of Powell as composer that has rarely been heard. It is the kind of theme that could bear the addition of lyrics and commercial exposure along the lines successfully tackled by "Round Midnight," "Midnight Sun" and other jazz instrumentals.
"Marmalade" recalls the mood of some of Bud's earlier efforts as a composer. A boppish 32-bar line, it is a launching pad for medium-bright cooking on the part of Bud and Sam. Note the tremolo chord effect and the facetious quote from Raymond Scott's "Toy Trumpet" in the chorus before the bass solo.
"Monopoly," with its repeated tonic against changing chords, is somehow reminiscent of Thelonious in its thematic conception; there is no evidence that Bud was not composing and/or improvising in this manner at least as early as Monk. Bud's work on this track is a model of rhythmic as well as melodic and harmonic ingenuity; for variety's sake he even incorporates a brief passage of stride left hand, a gambit to which he has resorted before, but more often when not accompanied by a rhythm section. Sam Jones's solo, perhaps his most successful of the whole set, displays smooth continuity of phrasing abetted by facile technique. Philly's brushes, both in solo and background roles, are an agile asset.
"John's Abbey" is a fast-tempo original with lines that recall some of the typical Parker works of the 1940s. The blowing choruses by Bud typify the style of his earlier recordings, his bass line punching out accents, somewhat as one would use the space bar on a typewriter while the upper register spells out the words in fast-moving clusters of single notes. The tempo is cut in half surprisingly at the end for an eighteenth-century coda complete with final tonic.
"Dry Soul," though at times unmistakably Powell, is at once something else again. The tempo is very slow, the theme a 12-bar blues, and the mood, particularly in the opening and closing theme choruses, may remind some listeners of the Avery Parrish "After Hours" cut many years ago with Erskine Hawkins's band, a blues that predated bop by a few years. ' Whatever the influence or intent, this one came out strictly funk, all the way to the final blue ninth.
The side closes with a second take of "Sub City," shorter than the track on the A side and without the bass and drum solos. Bud was in such exceptionally good shape on the day of this session that the inclusion of another take brings a welcome additional glimpse of his never-static invention and infinite capacity for taking choruses. As the last sustained chord trails off into space to bring the Time Waits album to an end, the listener, along with this writer, will be thankful that time waited to bring Bud, Philly Joe and Sam Jones together, and waited for Blue Note to produce the best Powell performances to be placed between covers in recent years.