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In Walked Bud


Dizzie, he was screaming
Next to O.P. who was beaming
Monk was thumping
Suddenly in walked Bud and then they got into somethin'


Thelonious Monk first recorded In Walked Bud in 1947. It was dedicated to his friend and fellow pianist Bud Powell. Bud was born and raised in Harlem and close as he was to Monk, Bud's primary influence was Art Tatum. Bud was born on September 27, 1924 ; Monk was his senior by seven years (born October 1917).

Listen to In Walked Bud from Thelonious Monk's 1958 Misterioso album with Thelonious Monk (piano), Ahmed Abdul-Malik (bass), Johnny Griffin (tenor saxophone) and Roy Haynes (drums). When this recording was made, Bud had just another eight years to live.





Bud's father was a pianist and it is not surprising that Bud was taking classical piano lessons by the age of five. By ten, he was showing an interest in Swing and it is said that the first number he got to grips with was James P. Johnson's Carolina Shout. Bud's older brother played trumpet, and by the age of fifteen, Bud was playing in his brother's band. He heard Art Tatum and began to listen to the pianist Bu, Richie and William Powellwhenever he could in local venues. One of the places he frequented was Uptown House and there he heard the beginnings of bebop and met Thelonious Monk. Bud was actually underage for Uptown House, but this didn't seem to stop him being there. Monk took Bud under his wing and introduced him to the musicians at Minton's Playhouse. They became good friends and Bud would develop Monk's ideas on piano.


Bud, Richie and William Powell


Bud Powell played piano on some of Cootie Williams's Swing Orchestra recording dates in 1944, the last of which included the first-ever recording of Monk's 'Round Midnight. His period with Cootie ended with the now well-known incident in January 1945 when Bud was separated from the band after a gig in Philadelphia. Apparently, Dexter Gordon told the story that Bud was found wandering around Broad Street station drunk, arrested by the railroad police, beaten and handed over to the city police who locked him up. Ten days later, with continuing headaches, he was admitted to Bellevue hospital and then to a state Psychiatric hospital sixty miles away where he stayed for two and a half months.

Other biographies claimed that In Walked Bud was written by Monk as a 'thank you' to Bud following a raid on the Savoy Ballroom in 1945. According to Monk biographer Thomas Fitterling, the police raided the venue and singled out Monk, who refused to show his identification and was arrested with force. Bud tried to prevent the police from the door and yelled, "Stop, you don't know what you're Bud Powelldoing. You're mistreating the greatest pianist in the world." According to this account, Bud was struck on the head by a police officer with a nightstick, and it was this injury that led to his future hospitalisations and behaviour. Other accounts vary yet again. Apparently Miles Davis said Powell was beaten by a Savoy Ballroom bouncer after walking in the club without any money. Perhaps the truth lies somewhere in between, or has elements of all of these accounts.


Bud Powell


Bud went back to Manhattan after his release from hospital and soon became in demand on the club scene making a number of recordings during 1945 and 1946 with people like Dexter Gordon, J.J. Johnson, Sonny Stitt and Fats Navarro. He was an excellent sight-reader, could play fast, and reflected the influence of musicians like Charlie Parker. In 1946 he recorded the jazz standard Bouncing With Bud (originally called Bebop In Pastel). In May 1947, Charlie Parker enlisted Bud to his Quintet with Miles Davis, Tommy Potter and Max Roach. You can hear him, particularly, on the third take of Bird's recording of Donna Lee:




Listen to Bouncing With Bud from 1949 with Sonny Rollins (tenor sax), Fats Navarro (trumpet), Bud Powell (piano), Tommy Potter (bass) and Roy Haynes (drums).




But by 1947, Bud was generally playing less. This was not helped by an incident that again led to him being hospitalised. It seems that in November, he had an dispute with another customer at a bar in Harlem. A fight ensued and Bud was hit over the eye with a bottle. He was taken, incoherent and argumentative, to Harlem Hospital and then back to Bellevue. They had records of his previous admission and sent him to Creedmoor State Hospital, a psychiatric facility in Queens. He was there for almost a year. On one occasion, he was apparently visited by his girlfriend who told him she was pregnant with their child. A period of electroconvulsive therapy followed over the next three months, possibly because of an outburst by Bud after hearing this news. He was discharged in October 1948, but he was Bud Powellemotionally unstable for the rest of his career. Drinking had a profound effect on his character, making him aggressive or depressed. He was back in hospital for a brief time in early 1949 but despite all this, continued to play.


Bud Powell


Some say that he made his best recordings between 1949 and 1953. However, he was back in psychiatric hospital from late 1951 to early 1953 after being arrested for possession of cannabis. He was prescribed Largactil (for the treatment of schizophrenia) and this would gradually affect his playing. He was discharged into the responsibility of of Oscar Goodstein, owner of the Birdland nightclub.

In 1956, Bud's brother Richie was killed in a car crash alongside trumpeter Clifford Brown. Richie, Bud's younger brother, was also a jazz pianist whilst Bud's older brother, William Jr, was a trumpeter and violinist.

Although far less well known than Bud, Richie played in Johnny Hodges's band from 1952 to 1954 before joining Clifford Brown and Max Roach. It seems that 'one account of why Richie took up the piano is that he pestered drummer Max Roach, who lived nearby, for drum lessons, and Roach, eventually fed up, suggested that he play the piano instead. Bud did not assist his brother at all in his musical endeavors; instead, according to a biographer of saxophonist Jackie McLean, "it was an excellent but now forgotten pianist named Bob Bunyan who taught Richie Powell chords on the piano. Richie would study with Bunyan, and then go home and watch his brother practice. [...] Richie and Jackie became tight friends and used to rehearse together". Richie, his wife, and Clifford Brown were killed in a car crash when traveling overnight from Philadelphia to Chicago. Sadly, through his work with Brownie and Max Roach, Richie was just beginning to achieve recognition at the time he died.'

Here's the Max Roach / Clifford Brown Quintet playing Daahoud in May 1956 recorded live at The Basin Street Club, New York City with Clifford Brown (trumpet), Sonny Rollins (tenor sax), George Morrow (bass), Willie Jones (drums) and Richie Powell (piano) - listen to the encouragement given to Richie during his solo.



It has been noted in many places that In Walked Bud is based on the same chord progression as Irving Berlin's Blue Skies. I don't think anyone has suggested plagiarism and so I am not sure how relevant this is. I guess it is just a point of interest. On another incidental fact, one YouTube correspondent points out that in 1954, Dmitri Tiomkin took the first four bars and played it slower in the same key as part of the theme from the John Wayne film The High and the Mighty - you will see from the trailer that Blue Skies was far from appropriate! Never mind, John Wayne was aboard! Also aboard was drummer and bandleader turned actor Phil Harris as Ed 'who had taught himself to face disaster with a smile'. (Phil Harris was also the voice of Baloo in the original Jungle Book film).




Monk recorded In Walked Bud many times. The first occasion was in the autumn of 1947 from a series of sessions during 1947/1948 that were released in 1951 on the album Genius of Modern Music - Vol. 1. It is worth noting that in the autumn of 1947 Bud himself was playing less and was admitted to hospital in November. The Savoy Ballroom incident, Bud's hospitalisation and the recording all occurred over a period of about 2 years.

It is difficult to find a version of the original recording on YouTube, but the Overjazz Channel offers this:





Bud Powell died in 1966. In 1962, he moved in to live with his friend Francis Paudras in Paris. Paudras was a commercial artist and amateur pianist. Here's a video of Bud playing Anthropology in Paris in 1962 with a young Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen on bass and Jorn Elniff, drums.






In 1963, Bud contracted tuberculosis, but in 1964 he was back in New York for a return gig at Birdland accompanied by drummer Horace Arnold and bassist John Ore. Although the plan had been for Bud and Francis to go back to Paris, Paudras returned alone. In 1965, Bud played only two concerts: one a disastrous performance at Carnegie Hall, the other a tribute to Charlie Parker on May 1st with Thelonious Monk Undergroundother performers on the bill, including Albert Ayler. Bud Powell was hospitalized in New York after months of increasingly erratic behavior and self-neglect. On July 31st, 1966, he died of tuberculosis, malnutrition, and alcoholism. Several thousand people viewed his Harlem funeral procession.


Thelonious Monk Underground


Two years later, Thelonious Monk made a further, and final, recording of In Walked Bud for his album Underground - that album with a sleeve that is worth an article in its own right - from a distance it looks Renoir inspired but look closer and we have a different story going on here.

This time, Jon Hendricks wrote lyrics for the tune which have been associated with In Walked Bud ever since. Presumably, Jon Hendricks interpretation is his, rather than Monk's. Although they do not reflect the stories about the Savoy Ballroom, they do capture the scene of Bud Powell's contribution to the bebop story. Here's the track with Thelonious Monk (piano), Larry Gales (bass), Ben Riley (drums) and Jon Hendricks (vocals).





Oscar played a mean sax
Mr. Byers blew a mean axe
Monk was thumping
Suddenly in walked Bud
And then the joint started jumping


Coming up to date, watch this live video from 2016 of the Final Frontier Quintet featuring Aisling Iris on vocals, Tony Kofi on saxophone, Rod Youngs on drums, Jonathan Gee on piano and Andrew Robb on double bass filmed at the Crypt in Camberwell in association with Jazzlive.




Every hip stud really dug Bud
Soon as he hit town
Takin’ that note nobody wrote
Putting it down

Dizzie he was screaming
Next to O. P. who was beaming
Monk was thumping
Suddenly in walked Bud
And then they got into something



We end with this compilation video of Bud Powell in Paris in 1959 with various illustrious musicians including Clark Terry and Kenny Clarke. Is it my imagination or does saxophonist Barney Wilen reference In Walked Bud in the the second clip, No Problem?




A remastered version of Monk's The Genius of Modern Music Vol. 1 album which includes the track In Walked Bud is available - click here.


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© Sandy Brown Jazz 2016