NEARLY EIGHTY YEARS LATER, MEL POWELL’S IMPROVISATIONS ON “MISSION TO MOSCOW” CONTINUE TO DAZZLE

Magnificent gifts from Mel Powell and his daughter Kati.

If you find surface noise on ancient discs offensive, please find another post, because here “bad sound” is mixed in with ethereal music.  Home recording discs were never supposed to last seventy-five years, so it’s a miracle that these did, but there is a good deal of surface damage to these unrestored artifacts.

I had possession of these holy relics for a short time, before passing them on, so what you hear below is one pass each — so not to erode the fragile surfaces even more.  The discs are now part of the “Mel Powell WW2 Collection” currently curated by my good friend, the splendid musical detective David Fletcher, part of a larger group of ephemera that’s being processed for its final destination. I have every expectation that the discs will, in time, be tenderly and expertly restored.

These document the brilliant pianist / composer / arranger Mel Powell experimenting with his composition MISSION TO MOSCOW, first recorded by Benny Goodman with the composer at the piano in mid-1942, then Mel took it with him when he joined Glenn Miller and the Army Air Force Band.

What a thrilling pianist he is!

Sensitive listeners might want to start listening to this video around halfway through: there was serious damage to this disc and I played it from the start:

Another version, with a damaged start that is less obtrusive:

a more leisurely exploration, almost a pastoral walk:

and two separate explorations:

Blessings on Melvin Epstein, “Melvie,” Mel Powell and of course Kati Powell.

May your happiness increase!

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5 responses to “NEARLY EIGHTY YEARS LATER, MEL POWELL’S IMPROVISATIONS ON “MISSION TO MOSCOW” CONTINUE TO DAZZLE

  1. Sordoni III, Andrew

    Michael,
    In 1987 Mel and Martha came to WIlkes Barre for our Celebration of Music and Art which featured his music with Bob Wilber and an exhibition of his watercolors. Much more on that event is available if you are interested.
    Andrew J. Sordoni, III
    45 Owen Street
    Forty Fort, PA 18704
    (570) 283-6202

  2. Mel swung like crazy, had a wonderful harmonic sense, and improvised tastefully. It is too bad that we do not have more solos from the early years, like Jubilee, and Hallelujah.

  3. Well, the archive has just increased, Mark!

  4. Girish Trivedi

    A pleasure.

    Best.

    Girish

  5. Don "Zoot"Conner

    No,Virginia,Mel was not related to Bud or Richie but he swung his butt off before splitting for academia,and more’s the pity.Thanks for postings,Michael.

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