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Mel Powell

One of the finest swing pianists and a prodigy, Mel Powell was playing piano and writing important arrangements for Benny Goodman by the time he was 18. He had previously played with Bobby Hackett, George Brunis, and Zutty Singleton (1939), was the intermission pianist at Nick's, and worked in the short-lived Muggsy Spanier big band. During his stay with B.G., Powell and the clarinetist struck up a lifelong friendship; among his arrangements for Goodman were "The Earl," "Mission to Moscow," "Clarinade," and "Jersey Bounce." After a period working for the CBS Orchestra under Raymond Scott (1942), Powell was one of the stars of the Glenn Miller Army Air Force Band. Powell, whose style was reminiscent of Teddy Wilson's, recorded with Goodman during 1945-1947, led a few record dates (his first one was in 1942), and worked in the studios. However, after studying with Paul Hindemith at Yale (1952), he switched his career and became a classical composer. Powell did record some superior jazz dates for Vanguard during 1953-1955 and sat in with Bobby Hackett in the mid-'60s, but was otherwise occupied completely outside of jazz. After decades of work as a well-respected serial composer, Mel Powell returned to jazz for cruises in 1986 and 1987 that were recorded by Chiaroscuro. He continued composing and performing even after being diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, and was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1990. Eight years later, on April 24, Melvin Epstein died in the Los Angeles area. ~ Scott Yanow
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: It's Been So Long

1. 's Wonderful

2. It's Been So Long

3. You're Lucky To Me

4. When Did You Leave Heaven

5. Makin' Whoopie

6. Borderline

7. Quin And Sonic

8. Pennies From Heaven

9. Avalon

10. Stompin' At The Savoy

11. Cross Your Heart

12. If Dreams Come True

13. Gone With The Wind

14. What's New

15. Cooch

16. Bunny Hug

x

Track List: The Best Things In Life

1. You're My Thrill

2. Button Up Your Overcoat

3. Rosetta

4. California Here I Come

5. Beale Street Blues

6. The Best Things In Life Are Free

7. Liza

8. Thingamagig

9. Everything I Got

10. Easy Swing

11. Firebug

12. Ezz-May

13. You're Lucky To Me

14. Three Little Words

15. Ain't She Sweet

16. Bouquet

17. Take Me In Your Arms

Comments

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geraldberndt
First time I ever heard Mel. So much good music was made back then! Pandora early jazz station is awesome.

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