Mel Powell is one of the most brilliant pianists (and later, composers) that most people haven’t heard of, which is a pity.  I never met him, but I knew his music very early in my jazz-listening years through his work with Goodman and Glenn Miller, then his recordings for the Vanguard label in the Fifties.  In this century, I had the immense good fortune to meet his daughter Kati, who now has her home in a Southern town where we hope happiness will find her every day. Here is a 2017 post that combines music and history.

But this post, like some others, is motivated by objects that I delight in sharing.  One crossed my monitor just this afternoon — yes, eBay again — and an autographed photograph of Mel serving his country overseas:

The link is here, should you wish to get in on the fun.  My team of financial advisers held a conference and said, “No,” so the field is clear to bidders.

Kati very generously allowed me to borrow a number of Mel’s home-recorded discs, which I transferred in the least sophisticated way possible, knowing how delicate they are, how they would not stand up well to washing and repeated playings.  Some are difficult to listen to, but all are marvelous.  I’ve chosen two for this posting, because, after all, a photograph without a soundtrack is just a silent picture.

Incidentally, please don’t write to lecture me about the care of fragile discs.  I’m doing the best I can: Ristic is gone, and the Audiofixer is understandably overwhelmed.

Here is Mel’s meditation on I’M IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE, which starts in mid-performance because the outer portion of the disc was damaged:

And something I am calling A FLOURISH — Mel practicing the end of a song, although I have not yet figured out what the song is.

There might be more rare Mel Powell music in future.  But savor this now.

May your happiness increase!


  1. Doug Pomeroy

    An interesting acetate. Years ago I transferred an interesting interview with Powell for Loren Schoenberg, and I still have a cop[y of it.

  2. That is very tantalizing indeed, Sir!

  3. A big LIKE and THUMBS UP for all the reasons we share between us, Michael. I so wish that I could have known Mel and spoken with him…. about anything.

  4. Thomas Hustad

    A big THANK YOU, Michael. I share your enthusiasm for Mel Powell’s artistry and hope you are able to share more in the future. Tom Hustad

  5. Kathleen Powell

    I believe that, had he known you, his happiness would have increased exponentially! Sending love, kindness and inexpressible gratitude across the miles!

  6. Mel’s recording of Jubliee is a classic. There are also 2 takes of Hallelujah, from that Commodore session, which I have posted on Sound Cloud.

  7. Thanks Michael for this sharing of Mel Powell. Any chance of some unreleased Mel Powell coming out on disc? I know when Hank O’Neal put out “The Return of Mel Powell”, he mentioned in the Producer’s Notes that he had a whole second album on tape that would be released — yet, alas, it has never seen the light of day.

  8. Dear Steve,

    If someone had a record company and wanted to issue these discs, I know that Kati and I would be thrilled. Alas, it hasn’t happened yet: so my amateur video captures are the only way to hear Mel so flourishingly free. At the moment . . . .

  9. It was good to hear these excerpts of Mel Powell. I first heard him as recorded with Benny Goodman–my Dad was a Goodman fan, so I grew up with that music. I of course defer to Mr. Pomeroy when it comes to disk transfers, but I also have the equipment and know-how to do them pretty well. I would be pleased if you would consider adding me to your list of people who can handle disks like this.

  10. I will keep you informed, and am glad to see your phone begins with 212.

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