The Amazing Bud Powell, volume one
This aptly named album contains some of the greatest bebop ever recorded; after the initial upsurge, but while it was still fresh. Fats Navarro is there on trumpet during his finest hour, a young Sonny Rollins demonstrates that he had already mastered this idiom, and that many of his most distinctive stylistic traits were in place from the outset, while Tommy Potter and Roy Haynes drive everything along in exemplary fashion. However, Bud, heard here in his absolute prime, provides the main action: his single-note lines flow with a melodic invention equal to that of Lester Young, and he has a harmonic world entirely of his own, a parallel but rather less strange world to that of his friend Thelonious Monk.
The Genius of Bud Powell
Another aptly named album and recorded during the same period, this one combines a 1950 trio session with Ray Brown and Buddy Rich, and a solo piano session from 1951. Bud is inspired from start to finish on classic originals such as ‘Parisian Thoroughfare’ and ‘Hallucinations’, as well as on a roaring version of ‘Tea for Two’, but my personal favourite is ‘The Fruit’, which somehow encapsulates the essence of bebop.