Jazz pianist Bud Powell, was born on September 27,1924 and is generally considered to be the most important pianist in the history of jazz. Noted jazz writer and critic Gary Giddins, in Visions of Jazz, goes even further, saying that “Powell will be recognized as one of the most formidable creators of piano music in any time or idiom.”
His first recordings were made in 1944, when he was a 20 year old pianist in the Cootie Williams Band, and his last recordings were made in 1964 when he returned from several years in Europe to play at Birdland.
Between those dates Bud Powell played with the greatest jazz musicians of his generation including Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon, Charlie Mingus and Max Roach. The recordings he made for the forerunners of the Verve label and for Blue Note, as well as many lesser known labels, are among the greatest jazz recordings of all time.
If Oscar Peterson's piano style is like a painter creating a landscape out of swirls and dabs of colorful paint, Bud Powell's approach is more like a sculptor working with a slab of black marble. Powell too is influenced by Tatum, but only as filtered through Monk; whereas Peterson always seemed driven to create perfect renditions of songs, Powell always seemed to be wrestling with personal problems, sawing away at melodies as away of expressing him innermost thoughts. Consider each pianist's approach to "Sweet Georgia Brown"; Peterson's is all about style and finesse; Powell rips through it fiendishly with avalanches of arpeggios and ragged chords, daring your ears to keep up.
Tragically, Powell received a racially motivated beating early on in his career that caused the mental disturbances that kept him in and out of mental hospitals his entire life. Legend has it that in one of these hospitals Powell drew a piano keyboard on the wall with chalk in order to practice away from his instrument. As Powell got older, his condition worsened, and tags like "Genius" and "Amazing" on albums contain a hint of pathos as a result; did we ever truly know what his talents were?
Bud plays "All the Things You Are" with saxophonist Coleman Hawkins.
Reference - AAJ