• Five Essential Bud Powell Recordings

    September 27, 2012. Posted by Simon Rentner.

    Bud Powell pioneered bebop-style improvisation on the piano. (Image Credit: Metronome/Getty Images)

    Ever wish you could travel back in time to New York's 52nd Street — circa 1950, during the heyday of bebop — and whisper into Charlie Parker, or Dizzy Gillespie, or Thelonious Monk's ear, and ask them: Who was their favorite pianist to listen to? They would all give the same answer: Bud Powell.

    The story of Powell's extraordinary genius is often fantastically rendered in jazz lore. His life was chaotic and improbable, but more often misunderstood. Most often, his music was mesmerizing. In the new book Wail: The Life of Bud Powell, biographer Peter Pullman breaks down the myths and mysteries, revealing the complicated, sometimes tragic social circumstances that conspired to vanquish Powell's art. But the book also emphasizes the brilliance of a desperately uncompromising artist.

    Pullman recently stopped by WBGO to celebrate what would have been Powell's 88th birthday, joining historian Dan Morgenstern to share notable recordings and excerpts from his book. Here's a list of Pullman's five essential Bud Powell recordings.

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  • 'Treme,' Ep. 22: 'Dem Songs Is Gonna Stand, Son'

    September 25, 2012. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    Antoine Batiste (Wendell Pierce) plays in a tribute to tuba player Kerwin James. (Image Credit: Paul Schiraldi/HBO)

    If you've been watching the HBO series Treme with us, welcome back.

    If you're new here, welcome in the first place. WBGO's Josh Jackson, a New Orleans native, and I have been watching the music-saturated program set in post-Katrina New Orleans for two years now. After every episode, we try to establish some context for the many musical references and live performances the show features.

    As the show enters its third season, two years after Hurricane Katrina, the story remains much the same: Cultural survival is at stake. Here's the email dialogue Josh and I had.

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  • Matt Wilson's Arts And Crafts: Live At The Village Vanguard

    September 5, 2012. Posted by WBGO.

    Matt Wilson. (Image Credit: John Rogers for NPR/johnrogersnyc.com)

    Drummer Matt Wilson is always a colorful player — a timekeeper who exploits all the timbres a snare drum can give him, finding melody in it. And when it's his gig, he's also a colorful personality with flailing limbs and goofy joy on his face. Though he's often played New York City's famed Village Vanguard as a sideman, he'll be especially pleased to be leading his first booking there as a leader with his Arts and Crafts band.

    A quartet with trumpet (Terell Stafford), organ (Gary Versace, who also plays piano and accordion) and bass (Martin Wind), Arts and Crafts released another album earlier this year, An Attitude for Gratitude. The band will draw from that record and its three predecessors during its weeklong run. WBGO and NPR Music present a recording from our broadcast of Matt Wilson's Arts and Crafts, live at the Village Vanguard.

    Set List

    • "We See" (Monk)
    • "The Scenic Route" (Wilson)
    • "The Cruise Blues" (Wind)
    • "Bubbles" (Wilson)
    • "Happy Days Are Here Again" (Ager/Yellen)
    • "No Outerwear" (Wilson)
    • "There's No You" (Hopper/Adair)
    • "Teen Town" (Pastorius)


    • Matt Wilson, drums
    • Terell Stafford, trumpet
    • Gary Versace, piano/organ
    • Martin Wind, bass


    Host and Producer: Josh Jackson; Audio Engineer: David Tallacksen; Production Assistant: Michael Downes. Recorded Sept. 5, 2012 at The Village Vanguard in New York, N.Y.

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