Specs Powell Biography

Although he achieved much of his fame in small groups during the swing era, Specs Powell was versatile enough to fit into bop and hard bop settings when called upon. He started out doubling on piano in his own combo, but by the late '30s he was playing drums exclusively. Powell played with Edgar Hayes (1939), Eddie South, the John Kirby Sextet (replacing O'Neill Spencer from 1941-1942), Benny Carter, and Ben Webster, among many others. He worked as a staff musician at CBS from 1943 on, but remained active in jazz. Among his more notable later associations were Benny Goodman (1944), the Red Norvo Sextet (1944-1945), Mildred Bailey, Clyde Hart (recording with the pianist in 1945), Billie Holiday, Erroll Garner, and Teddy Wilson's trio. Powell, who recorded just one album as a leader (heading an 11-piece group for Roulette in 1957), was active into the 1970s. Sadly, in 2007 he passed away from kidney disease complications. ~ Scott Yanow, Rovi


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