Monday, June 28, 2010

R.I.P.: Benny Powell

(born March 13, 1926 in New Orleans, Louisiana;
died June 26, 2010 in New York, NY).

Although best known for his 12-year tenure (1951-63) with Count Basie, and for his eight-bar contribution to the Count's all-time hit, “April in Paris,” Benny Powell - who passed away on Saturday while recovering from back surgery - also recorded with such names as Hubert Laws, Duke Pearson, Lionel Hampton, J.J. Johnson, Quincy Jones, Artie Butler, Tony Bennett, Herbie Mann, Ray Charles, Cleo Laine, Thad Jones-Mel Lewis, Duke Ellington, John Carter, Jimmy Heath, David "Fathead" Newman, Roberta Flack, Aretha Franklin, Frank Foster, Frank Wess, Sarah Vaughan, Billy Eckstine, Herbie Hancock, Ernestine Anderson, Stanley Turrentine, Bill Henderson, Ry Cooder, Michel Colombier, Dr. John, Frank Sinatra, Mel Tormé, Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, Roland Kirk, Hank Crawford, Freddie Hubbard, B.B. King, Ben E. King, Earth Wind & Fire, Tamiko Jones, Sammy Davis, Jr. and countless others.
A highly versatile musician, he was very active in the 60s and 70s as a first-call session player, as well as performing on Broadway, TV (he was a member of the band of Merv Griffin's show) and movie soundtracks.
He also developed a prolific 25-year collaboration with Randy Weston and recorded on Moacir Santos' second album for Blue Note, "Saudade" (1974).
As a leader, he released three solo albums: "Coast to Coast" (Trident, 1982), "The Gift of Love" (Faith, 2003) and "Nextep" (Origin, 2008).

"Benny Powell is a journeyman trombonist whose bold sound bridges bebop and swing. His work employs the vocal color of great swing trombonists and the technical fluidity of bop practitioners. Powell plays both tenor trombone and the bigger-bored bass trombone broadening the colors he brings to an ensemble. Known exclusively as a sideman, he's made valuable contributions to several notable bands, ranging from the rocking swing of Lionel Hampton to the roots-informed avant-garde of John Carter," David Dupont wrote in the All Music Guide.

Detailed discography:

Recommended interview:

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