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The Amazing Bud Powell: Black Genius, Jazz History, and the Challenge of Bebop

The Amazing Bud Powell: Black Genius, Jazz History, and the Challenge of Bebop - Guthrie P. Ramsey  Jr. A sociological/cultural/musicological etc highly scholarly study of the Bebop movement and its impact on and the effects of the african american diaspora in the guise of a study/biography of one of the great early pioneers of bebop Bud Powell.

I wish Mr. Ramsey had been more honest when titling this book. It is a very good thought provoking insightful study of how Bebop emerged wholesale from the earlier forms of Jazz and how bebop was more than just a sub-genre of jazz, but a social and cultural change of thinking and creation. What it is not (for at least 2/3rds of its brief length) is a book about Bud Powell.

Powell is barely mentioned in some chapters and only in a cursory manner at best, while chapters seque into beatiful learned discourses on the nature of genre, gender and genius in music and in the african american diaspora. The last chapter is a study of selected pieces of Powell's throughout his career and is a truly fascinating read. I wish more of this study had been directly about Powell and his struggles with mental illness and his horrible mistreatment by the white dominated mental health system in New York and how despite and/or because of this he was still able to create jazz masterpieces that have stood the test of time.

Perhaps if the book had been titled after one of Powell's songs rather than a famous album title which elicits expectations of Powell being front and center in the narrative and not an afterthought,a more effective title would be something like : Comin' Up : Jazz History, the challenge of Bebop seen through the life and work of Bud Powell. Then Powell would be placed in a more correct order of importance in the work.