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The Amazing Bud Powell

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This article refers to volume 1 of the 5-volume series The Amazing Bud Powell. For the full catalog of Powell recordings for Blue Note, see The Complete Blue Note and Roost Recordings.
The Amazing Bud Powell
Studio album by
ReleasedApril 1952[1]
  • August 8, 1949
  • May 1, 1951
StudioWOR, NYC
LabelBlue Note
BLP 5003
ProducerAlfred Lion
Bud Powell chronology
Jazz Giant
The Amazing Bud Powell
Jazz at Massey Hall

The Amazing Bud Powell is a ten-inch LP by American jazz pianist Bud Powell, recorded on August 8, 1949, and May 1, 1951, and released on Blue Note in April 1952. In the first session, Powell performed in quintet with Fats Navarro, Sonny Rollins, Tommy Potter and Roy Haynes, and in trio with Potter and Haynes. In the second, Powell performed in trio with Curley Russell and Max Roach, and solo.

Release history[edit]

All eight original cuts (four from each session) were originally released as 78 rpm singles in 1949 and 1951: "You Go to My Head c/w Ornithology" (BN 1566), "Bouncing with Bud c/w Wail" (BN 1567), "Over the Rainbow c/w A Night in Tunisia" (BN 1576), and "Un Poco Loco c/w It Could Happen to You" (BN 1577).

Blue Note discontinued their 10" Modern Jazz late 1955. The following year, the label recompiled Powell's first three sessions as The Amazing Bud Powell, Volume 1 (1956; BLP 1503) and The Amazing Bud Powell, Volume 2 (1956; BLP 1504). In 1989, the album was digitally remastered and released on CD with the tracks listed in session chronological order, leaving five tracks from the 1951 session on the second volume.

When Rudy Van Gelder remastered the pair of the 2001 RVG edition, he placed the first two sessions on Volume 1 and the third session on Volume 2, mirroring the original 10" releases. Prior to this, on all releases bar the first, the album also contained a number of tracks from sessions originally on The Amazing Bud Powell, Vol. 1.


Professional ratings
Review scores
The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings[4]
The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide[3]

The album is rated highly within Powell's musical library, described by All About Jazz as "among the pianist's most important recordings"[5] and by The Complete Idiot's Guide to Jazz (in conjunction with volume two) as "a great introduction to this awesome pianist".[6] Jazz critic Scott Yanow characterized it in his book Jazz on Record as "full of essential music".[7] The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings included the album in its suggested “core collection” of essential recordings.[4]

In Bebop: The Best Musicians and Recordings, Yanow identifies among the highlights of the album "Bouncing with Bud", "52nd Street Theme" and "Dance of the Infidels," performed by the "very exciting quintet" of 1949, and also the 1951 trio's "three stunning versions of 'Un Poco Loco'".[8] Barry Kernfeld in The Blackwell Guide to Recorded Jazz notes with regards to "Un Poco Loco" that "the three takes [of the song]...enable us to hear the evolution of a masterpiece",[9] a label with which a critic at The New York Times concurred.[10]

The album is critically prized among Powell's releases. Among the more discussed of the album's tracks is the pianist's composition "Un Poco Loco" ("A Little Crazy"), which has been singled out by critics and cultural historians for its musical and cultural significance.

While the song "Un Poco Loco" has been identified as musically outstanding, it has also been discussed as culturally significant. According to Race Music: Black Cultures from Bebop to Hip-Hop, although Afro-Cuban jazz had been introduced in the 1940s by such artists as Dizzy Gillespie and Machito, "Un Poco Loco" is a significant marker in the establishment of this musical genre, as it revealed "the Afro-Cuban turn settling into bebop's acceptable field of rhetorical conventions".[11] More than Afro-Cuban, the authors of that book detect what they describe as a "Pan-African" musical influence in the composition's repetition, harmony and cyclic solo that, while not as obviously Afro-international as Gillespie's "A Night in Tunisia', "certainly signaled a 'blackness' that became part of the language of subsequent expressions of modern jazz."[12] The book Jazz 101 indicates that Powell's performances of this material in 1951 was "all the more astonishing" in its "level of creativity, and even authenticity" because little was known at the time of African music or how Latin music (aside from the Cuban influence) could be applied to jazz.[13] According to Yanow, in Afro-Cuban Jazz: The Essential Listening Companion, this composition was Powell's only involvement with Afro-Cuban Jazz.[14]

Track listing[edit]

Original release[edit]

All tracks are written by Bud Powell, except as noted.

Side 1
No.TitleWriter(s)Date recordedLength
1."Un Poco Loco" May 1, 19514:42
2."Over the Rainbow"May 1, 19512:55
3."Ornithology"August 8, 19492:20
4."Wail" August 8, 19493:02
Side 2
No.TitleWriter(s)Date recordedLength
1."A Night in Tunisia"May 1, 19514:12
2."It Could Happen to You"May 1, 19513:12
3."You Go to My Head"August 8, 19493:11
4."Bouncing with Bud"August 8, 19493:01

2001 RVG edition[edit]

All tracks are written by Bud Powell, except as noted.

The Amazing Bud Powell, Volume 1
No.TitleWriter(s)Date recordedLength
1."Bouncing with Bud"
  • Fuller
  • Powell
August 8, 19493:04
2."Wail" August 8, 19493:06
3."Dance of the Infidels" August 8, 19492:54
4."52nd Street Theme"MonkAugust 8, 19492:50
5."You Go to My Head"
  • Coots
  • H. Gillespie
August 8, 19493:15
  • Harris
  • Parker
August 8, 19492:23
7."Bouncing with Bud" (alternate take #1) August 8, 19493:06
8."Bouncing with Bud" (alternate take #2) August 8, 19493:16
9."Wail" (alternate take) August 8, 19492:42
10."Dance of the Infidels" (alternate take) August 8, 19492:51
11."Ornithology" (alternate take) August 8, 19493:12
12."Un Poco Loco" May 1, 19514:46
13."Over the Rainbow"
  • Arlen
  • Harburg
May 1, 19512:59
14."A Night in Tunisia"
  • Gillespie
  • Paparelli
May 1, 19514:17
15."It Could Happen to You"
  • Burke
  • Van Heusen
May 1, 19513:17
16."Parisian Thoroughfare" May 1, 19513:26
17."Un Poco Loco" (alternate take #1) May 1, 19513:49
18."Un Poco Loco" (alternate take #2) May 1, 19514:32
19."A Night in Tunisia" (alternate take) May 1, 19513:53
20."It Could Happen to You" (alternate take) May 1, 19512:23



August 8, 1949[edit]

May 1, 1951[edit]

  • Bud Powell – piano
  • Curley Russell – bass (except "Over the Rainbow", "It Could Happen to You")
  • Max Roach – drums (except "Over the Rainbow", "It Could Happen to You")

Technical personnel[edit]


  1. ^ Billboard, April 26, 1952.
  2. ^ Janow, Scott, "The Amazing Bud Powell, Vol. 1 Review", AllMusic review.
  3. ^ Swenson, J., ed. (1985). The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide. USA: Random House/Rolling Stone. p. 163. ISBN 0-394-72643-X.
  4. ^ a b Cook, Richard; Morton, Brian (2008). The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings (9th ed.). Penguin. p. 1177. ISBN 978-0-141-03401-0.
  5. ^ Firehammer, John. (October 1, 2001) The Amazing Bud Powell Vols. 1 and 2 All About Jazz. Retrieved May 26, 2008.
  6. ^ Axelrod, Alan; Alpha Development Group (1999). The Complete Idiot's Guide to Jazz. Alpha Books. p. 167. ISBN 0-02-862731-8.
  7. ^ Yanow, Scott (2003). Jazz on Record: The First Sixty Years. Backbeat Books. p. 359. ISBN 0-87930-755-2.
  8. ^ Yanow, Scott (2000). Bebop: The Best Musicians and Recordings. Backbeat Books. pp. 62–63. ISBN 0-87930-608-4.
  9. ^ Kernfeld, Barry Dean (1995). The Blackwell Guide to Recorded Jazz. Blackwell Publishing. p. 232. ISBN 0-631-19552-1.
  10. ^ Piazza, Tom (January 1, 1995). "How Two Pianists Remade (And Upheld) a Tradition". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  11. ^ Ramsey, Jr., Guthrie P.; Guthrie P. Ramsey (2004). Race Music: Black Cultures from Bebop to Hip-Hop. University of California Press. p. 127. ISBN 0-520-24333-1.
  12. ^ Ramsey and Ramsey, 128–130.
  13. ^ Szwed, John F. (2000). Jazz 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Jazz. Hyperion. p. 170. ISBN 0-7868-8496-7.
  14. ^ Yanow, Scott (2000). Afro-Cuban Jazz: The Essential Listening Companion. Backbeat Books. p. 188. ISBN 0-87930-619-X.

External links[edit]