Dance of the Infidels: A Portrait of Bud Powell

Overview

What Charlie Parker was to the saxophone, Bud Powell (1924–1966) was to the piano: No jazz pianist can rival his brilliance. But his life was filled with tragedy, including years of electroshock therapy in psychiatric institutions, illnesses, physical and mental abuse from people who fed him dangerous drugs to control him, and the indifference of his contemporaries to his genius. Francis Paudras, a young jazz fan who met Powell in the late 1950s, released him from his unfavorable surroundings, encouraged him to ...

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Overview

What Charlie Parker was to the saxophone, Bud Powell (1924–1966) was to the piano: No jazz pianist can rival his brilliance. But his life was filled with tragedy, including years of electroshock therapy in psychiatric institutions, illnesses, physical and mental abuse from people who fed him dangerous drugs to control him, and the indifference of his contemporaries to his genius. Francis Paudras, a young jazz fan who met Powell in the late 1950s, released him from his unfavorable surroundings, encouraged him to create some of his finest music, and took care of him as if he were his child. Powell’s story, Dance of the Infidels, is one of the most moving of jazz memoirs—and served as the basis for Bertrand Tavernier’s film ’Round Midnight, starring Dexter Gordon. Here, for the first time in English, is a portrait of a friendship as surprising and heartbreaking as Bud Powell’s timeless music.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Film buffs will remember that, before Shine, there was 'Round Midnight, the Bertrand Tavernier bio pic loosely based on the lives of jazzmen Bud Powell and Lester Young. The intersection of artistic success and personal instability is something of a clich; but the two do collide occasionally, as is the case here. Bud Powell 1924-1966 was a brilliant, badly damaged composer and pianist who is revered as one of the greats by his peers yet who was so down and out that he was often seen panhandling between gigs at Paris's legendary Blue Note club so he could gather enough francs to buy another "vin rouge" almost the only French he knew. Paudras, who committed suicide last year, was a young French jazz fan who discovered the musician in the 1950s and took him in, forcefully separating Powell from the horrendous Buttercup, a self-appointed "wife" who used him as a meal ticket, drugging him and even taking his clothes so he couldn't get away. Dance of the Infidels is a real-time memoir that covers the last eight years of Powell's life, a period of transcendent creation and abysmal suffering. Although it doesn't have the arc of a definitive biography, this is an intimate account told by one who, if ultimately unable to explain Powell either to himself or to his readers, loved and cared for him as no one else did. 191 b&w photos not seen by PW. June
Herbie Hancock
A wonderful living document of [Paudras's] personal relationship with the genius Bud Powell. -- Herbie Hancock
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780306808166
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/1998
  • Edition description: 1 DA CAPO
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 834,557
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.89 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Meet the Author

Francis Paudras's books include a biography of Charlie Parker and a book of jazz photographs. He took his own life in November 1997, in Antigny, France.

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