Bud Powell’s solo on Celia, the pianist’s own composition named for his daughter, is one of the great bebop performances. A real one-chorus-wonder, it appears on the album Jazz Giant, which comprises two trio sessions: one recorded in 1949 with Ray Brown and Max Roach, and one from 1950 with Roach and Curley Russell. Celia is from the earlier session, which heavily features Powell’s compositions, with five of the seven tracks written by the pianist, whereas the tunes from the 1950 session are all American Songbook standards. Along with Celia, Cherokee (Ray Noble) and Tempus Fugit (Powell) from the 1949 session are among Powell’s most acclaimed studio recordings.

If played in the correct octave this solo ventures into the altissimo range (the register above the instrument’s standard range) when played on the alto saxophone. The altissimo register is something that’s never come naturally to me as a saxophonist, and is very much still a work in progress, so I’ve enjoyed using this solo as a kind of altissimo study. It’s nice to play something that functions as a technical workout whilst also being packed full of bebop vocabularly, and it goes without saying that the recording is incredibly swinging and that attempting to play along with it is a rewarding challenge. The solo begins with an immortal two bar break. You can see a transcription of the solo for Eb instruments here:


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