1 sept. 2008

Thomas B asks "What's a good Powell performance to hear this quality in? Preferably the slow, intense version."

In my car today I listened to Powell play the song "You Go to My Head" at a very slow tempo (maybe 70 bpm). I listened to it about 7 or 8 times, in fact. (The Amazing Bud Powell Vol. 1). A good way to feel the rhythmic tension is to count along with the bass and drums (1234, 2234, 3234 etc... ) in 8 measure phrases. Once or twice doing this I actually thought I had lost count and I was on the wrong measure, but I kept going and I came out at the right place.

Around measures 3-5 of the second 8 bar phrase (not counting the 4-bar intro) he plays the same rhythmic figure a few times in a row at different tempi (around the 57 second mark if you're following along at home.) That's one way he achieves that "uncanny" effect of rhythmic elasticity.

A rubato, Tatumesque version of "Over the Rainbow" is also on this disk. It's not as good an example because it's not played against a steady beat. The stretching and compressing of time is not as dramatic without the isochrony of the beat.

Try out "Parisian Thoroughfare" on the same collection for a different tempo.

6 comentarios:

Thomas Basbøll dijo...

Thanks for this. I'm listening to it now. I'm going to be comparing it to the elasticity of Gould's performance of the 13th Prelude of the Well-Tempered Clavier, book 1.

Jonathan dijo...

I'll listen to the Glen Gould when I get home today. I have that on my laptop. It'll be interesting to see what you come up with.

Thomas Basbøll dijo...

I look forward to your thoughts on this too. Can you think of an "inelastic" (but perfectly legitimate) performance of "You Go to My Head"?

By comparison, Keith Jarrett's version of the 13th prelude is, to my mind, inelastic in the way I think Gould's is elastic (but not thereby bad).

Jonathan dijo...

It would be a question of degrees, wouldn't it. On the itunes store I found versions of this song by Billie Holiday, Sinatra, Bennett, Ella, Sarah, Dinah, Bing, Krall, Etta James, Art Pepper, Teddy Wilson, Louis Armstrong, even Anthony Braxton... The least swinging seemed to be Rod Stewart, Linda Ronstadt, and Marlene Dietrich, as you might expect. But swing itself is not the same thing as elasticity. A good point of comparison might be Etta.

Thomas Basbøll dijo...

Is there another piano version (no vocal) to compare Bud Powell with? I'm having a hard time with Etta James ... as far as getting the specific difference.

Jonathan dijo...

The piano version I know is Tatum's--once again you could predict that his would be highly elastic so wouldn't necessarily provide a good contrast along this axis. Oscar Peterson probably would be less so; he's recorded this tune also.