Comment/Meet the Author

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You are invited to comment at the bottom of the page on Wail: The Life of Bud Powell or related topics of interest to jazz fans.

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8 comments to Comment/Meet the Author

  • LOVING what I’ve been reading thus far!

  • Nick Campailla

    Dear Mr Pullman,
    Have just finished reading your book and I fully endorse all the other favourable comments on it, it’s a very important and illuminating book about this most extraordinary musician.

    I just wanted to mention one discographical query – the famous trio session with Indiana, Off Minor etc is cited on all recordings I have as being from 10th January 1947 meaning that the May 1947 with Parker was not Powell’s first recording that year.

    Kind regards,

    Nick Campailla

    • admin


      Thanks for your interest — and for your desire to set the record straight.

      You can trust me on this issue: The discographies are wrong.

      The phenomenon is one of perpetuation, which diligent historians encounter often in all fields: A fact appears in one source, and each subsequent source repeats it; from the second source on, however, none looks to see what the original source based the fact on.

      I spent >years< trying to substantiate the 10.I.47 dating, and I did so from every angle; no proof was forthcoming. No one knew, even, where that date came from. Whereas, I looked to establish the correct date through various kinds of triangulation of my own: I had already created a template of not only Powell’s known performances, live and studio, but of his whereabouts based on all other evidence, including the historical record, newspaper accounts, other histories of the era, recording contracts, informant (in the oral-history sense) testimonies, etc. You can read, in the corresponding endnote — that is, the one that’s enumerated in the part of my narrative that concerns this Powell-Brown-Roach session — some of my evidence for the VIII.49 dating that I give to it. I have more than that, however. I won’t take up the space here but, having spoken with everyone even tangentially involved, and pored over the most disparate bits of other kinds of evidence, I’m certain of the (approximate) date that I give this session. Powell made but one recording in 1947, and it was as a sideman for Charlie Parker. Peter Pullman

  • Gia5

    Stefano Zenni is simply the best. I answered to your e-mail, thank you for contacting me.I’m sure it’ll be translated, we all love Bud!!

  • Gia5

    Will this book be translated in Italian?? I hope so.

    • admin

      I would love to see it in Italian.

      I found that, over the years of my research, the Italians are not just avid jazz fans; they produce more talented jazz players that does any other country in Europe.

      I have a couple of colleagues there. One, Stefano Zenni, of Prato, is reading *Wail* and looking to review it for some Italian media.

      If he thinks that it is worthy, Gia5, and you do, too . . . maybe one of you can help me to find a translator. I am eager to have the work available in Italian.

      Thanks for your interest.

  • Jerry Suls

    I just finished reading your book on Bud Powell yesterday.
    It is really an important document and I appreciate the obvious work and dedication you devoted to this project. The prose is impeccable.
    If I may I would like to pose a question. To place my question in context, I have been working on a writing project concerned with Monk- not a biography, which Robin Kelley has done very well, but a series of essays that considers Monk’s contributions and legacy from, I think, a different perspective. One issue that I feel the need to touch on is the flinty issue of mental health issues. Although I recognize that Monk was institutionalized a number of times, institutionalization does not equal “mental illness,” necessarily (as you know). Diagnostic procedures in the 1940’s-1960’s were still under development (and are still under development. Although I think there is information in your book that strongly suggests that Bud Powell had serious mental health issues- more precision that than may never be possible. Psychiatry, at that point, was not equipped to fully comprehend African Americans from sub-cultures with different norms, patients who had reason to be suspicious of mental health professionals and the pervasive prejudice of the era.
    So why am I mentioning Monk. Kelley’s biography and T.S. Monk’s comments seem to assume Monk had serious mental health problems. I don’t doubt that in one sense, but it is ambiguous whether they were “genetic.” As a psychologist and researcher, it is difficult to disentangle heredity, socialization, prejudice/discrimination and effects of drug use. It seems to be accepted that Monk liked to mix-up drugs. He seemed to take experimentation and combinations as seriously in his drug use as in his composing and improvising. Mixing-up drugs can have very serious after-effects. For all we know, it was the strange combinations used extensively over time that led to some of his unusual behavior (although other aspects seemed like intentional performances, his sense of humor and his way to cope with foolish intrusive questions and implicit racism). There was also the case of Dr. Freyman; the amphetamines used over a long period of time should have had some long-term effects. For all of these reasons, I have not ascribed Monk’s behavior to mental illness (unless something new comes to light- the fact that a diagnosis appears in a medical record- means very little given the era and the lack of sophistication in clinical diagnosis at that time. (Monk’s reclusiveness in his later years might well be symptomatic of stroke.)
    However, and here, finally, is my question, your book suggests that Monk was more than an occasional user of heroin. The Kelley book and other sources seem to suggest, besides, marijuana, Monk infrequently used heroin or powerful psycho-active drugs recreationally. I got the impression that your sources ascribed more use of heroin to Monk. Would you care to comment?
    Thanks in advance for your time and consideration. And thanks for an excellent model of jazz history/musicology.

  • sookhyun song

    i’m from korea…

    and unfortunatley i’m going to return to my country on sep.7th.

    before coming here i have made a effort to find to Bud’s grave…

    so i have searched a alo of site, a lot for times…

    but i couldn’t find it…

    so if you know the location of his grave

    please send to email to me

    from one of fans

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