Worlds away in mood from the effervescent "Bud's Bubble," despite the grim similarity of the two titles, "Glass Enclosure" juxtaposes to harrowing effect an agitated blues riff and a ten-bar fanfare fit for a king. It includes no improvisation; Duvivier probably deserves credit for the arrangement as well as the steel-ribbed bass lines. This piece has to be played Powell's way or not at all, which explains why it's so rarely performed. But Powell also composed any number of conventional bop lines that might serve as excellent jam-session vehicles--for example, the breezy "Celia" or, better still, "Dance of the Infidels," with its flatted and slightly demented bugle-call introduction, from Powell's 1949 Blue Note date with Fats Navarro on trumpet and a very young Sonny Rollins on tenor saxophone. Powell's introductions and bridges were often wonderful little songs in themselves; this quality may have been another beneficial effect of his friendship with Monk.
It's possible that the reason so few musicians play Powell's compositions along with the usual ones by Monk and Parker and Dizzy Gillespie is that Powell's tunes are perceived as inextricable from his virtuosity as a pianist. But there might be another reason. A first step for a composer who wants to make a number a jazz standard is to perform it in concert night after night. Powell didn't do this, at least to judge from recorded air checks of his 1950s New York performances, which typically feature him playing pop standards and such familiar bebop anthems as Gillespie's "Salt Peanuts" and "A Night in Tunisia." Powell either couldn't remember his own tunes by that point or was in no shape to teach them to his sidemen.
A FEW months after recording his final Blue Note album as a leader, in the closing days of 1958, Powell emigrated to Paris for five years, where he was eventually cared for by the graphic artist Francis Paudras. (The friendship between Powell and Paudras was the inspiration for the 1986 movie 'Round Midnight, though the character played by Dexter Gordon had more in common with Lester Young). Paudras nursed Powell back to partial health, with the emphasis on "partial."
"He was overweight, sullen, and unapproachable, given to staring silently at the wall, twiddling his fingers when not playing," Alan Groves writes of seeing Powell in Paris in 1961, in the preface to The Glass Enclosure, a slim but informative volume on Powell's life and career written with Alyn Shipton and published in England in 1993. "He sat virtually motionless, and it was only his hands that moved when he did play. He appeared to have no interest in his surroundings, and little interest in his music."
Powell displayed symptoms that may have been related to schizophrenia or head trauma. He was said to alarm people by grinning or grimacing for no apparent reason, to look out at audiences with a blank stare, and to hold his breath almost to the point of asphyxiation during some of his solos. According to Groves and Shipton, Paudras once "listened in on a long and sympathetic interview with Bud [by a French doctor], at which Powell admitted to dreaming at night that he was constantly playing the piano, and that, even when awake, he was prone to the same dreams." The Complete Blue Note and Roost Recordings ends, in 1963, with a version of "Like Someone in Love" that was recorded during a lull in a Dexter Gordon session. Powell might as well be playing that dream piano--he certainly doesn't sound obsessed with the one in front of him. The track is as much an afterthought as Powell's death in New York, three years later. It's difficult to believe that this pianist is the same man who at his first recording session, only sixteen years earlier, confidently tossed off eight numbers in the time allotted for four, with no need for retakes.