Dance of the Infidels: A Portrait of Bud Powell

Francis Paudras, Author, Rubye Monet, Translator, Bill Evans, Foreword by
Francis Paudras, Author, Rubye Monet, Translator, Bill Evans, Foreword by Da Capo Press $18.95 (368p) ISBN 978-0-306-80816-6
Reviewed on: 03/23/1998
Release date: 04/01/1998
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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)
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