Tim Whalen’s ‘Oblivion:’ paying tribute to Bud Powell, with a dash of D.C. flavor

Best D.C. jazz of 2015

Tim Whalen’s Oblivion is an album dedicated to the late pianist Bud Powell, one of the golden era bebop musicians who was essential to the development of the art form. He came through the ranks of the New York jazz scene, frequenting the clubs of Harlem and Midtown, learning from the multitude of masters and becoming a leading voice on his instrument. Looking back, his recordings and life story are that of a legend, continuing to provide a wealth of inspiration to generations of musicians.

Tim Whalen - OblivionWhalen is another in the line of piano players who have been influenced by Bud Powell, but one of the relative few to pay him tribute directly. This album revisits classics from the Powell repertoire, with new arrangements and a somewhat atypical instrumentation—for Bud at least.

As a point of reference, Powell’s most recognizable quintet recordings are the ones from 1949 included on The Amazing Bud Powell, Vol. 1. Each musician on there is an icon in his own right, and the band features the classic bebop instrumentation: tenor sax, trumpet and rhythm section. For Oblivion, Whalen trades out the trumpet for guitar, which provides a unique sound to the ensemble, one that’s more subtle and smooth, rather than brash and aggressive.

Whalen recruited some of D.C.’s straight-ahead stalwarts, all of whom seem quite at home with the tunes. That is perhaps the most rewarding aspect of this record: While the band is honoring a substantial legacy, it sounds like another night of musical conversation in D.C., where the cats are swinging hard, staying in the tradition, spilling forth the tried and true jazz language. logo

Buy the album here. See the top five D.C. jazz albums of 2015 here.

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Luke Stewart

About Luke Stewart

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Luke Stewart is a DC/NYC-based musician and organizer of important musical presentations. He also has a presence in the national and international professional music community. He was profiled in the Washington Post in early 2017 as “holding down the jazz scene,” selected as “Best Musical Omnivore” in the Washington City Paper’s 2017 “Best of DC,” chosen as “Jazz Artist of the Year” for 2017 in the District Now, and in the 2014 People Issue of the Washington City Paper as a “Jazz Revolutionary,” citing his multi-faceted cultural activities throughout DC. In DC his regular ensembles include experimental jazz trio Heart of the Ghost, Low Ways Quartet featuring guitarist Anthony Pirog, and experimental rock duo Blacks’ Myths.  As a solo artist, he has been compiling a series of improvisational sound structures for Upright Bass and Amplifier. As a scholar/performer, he has performed and lectured at Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, Medgar Evers College, George Mason University, Wayne State University, University of Montana, New Mexico State University, and the University of South Carolina. He holds a BA in International Studies and a BA in Audio Production from American University, and an MA in Arts Management and Entrepreneurship from the New School. Reach Luke at [email protected]

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