Hallucinations/Budo: A Critical Analysis of Covers

“Hallucinations”, or “Budo”, is a Bud Powell composition…er, a Miles Davis composition. As “Hallucinations”, the tune first appeared on Powell’s The Genius of Bud Powell as a solo piano vehicle, while it first appeared as “Budo” on Miles’ Birth of the Cool, with a nonet. Either way, it’s a fun and catchy piece of bop that has been re-visited quite a few times since it first appeared in the early 1950s.

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On The Genius of Bud Powell, “Hallucinations” is a short and sweet piece of solo piano. Powell launches straight into the tune’s head and plays through its complexities, moving into an improvisation at about 0:40 or 0:45. It is amazing how Powell’s improvisation is based so closely on the tune’s melody while coming up with completely original variations throughout – something Powell had in common with Monk’s piano style and not many others. After moving through his improvisation, he returns to the tune’s theme at about 2:05 and plays it through to the end. The full head isn’t repeated at the finish, but really just enough to remind you of the head. The “Hallucinations” melody provides Powell with fertile ground for improvisation, and would do the same for the many musicians who took on the tune.


Miles Davis’ Birth of the Cool was in part a project of arranger Gil Evans’ that was led by a young Miles. On Birth of the Cool, Miles’ trumpet is joined by a varying cast, but for “Budo” the band includes Gerry Mulligan and Lee Konitz on saxes, Kai Winding on trombone, Bill Barber on tuba, Sandy Siegelstein on French horn, Joe Shulman on bass, Al Haig on piano, and Max Roach on drums. “Budo” is credited as being written by Miles and Bud Powell, with an arrangement by John Lewis, and basically consists of “Hallucinations” with a short introduction. The band adds a punchy brass introduction to the tune before moving into the “Hallucinations” head. At about 0:40, the band has played through the head and Davis takes a trumpet solo over the drums, walking bass, and piano comping. He’s followed by Mulligan on sax at about 1:15, who takes a very brief solo that is followed by Konitz at about 1:30, then Winding at about 1:45. After the brief trombone solo, the band moves back into the composed portion of the song. They play through the “Hallucinations” theme, then return to the punchy brass part that introduced the tune, leaving some open drum breaks for Max Roach. After a brief 2:30 or so, it’s all done. There’s a lot packed into this 2:30 tune, with solo spots for trumpet, sax, trombone, and the drums, dense horn arrangements by John Lewis in the tune’s head, and some additions to the “Hallucinations” theme that were presumably added by Davis. I’ll also mention here that Davis would re-visit “Budo” a few years later with a different group that included Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley on sax, Red Garland on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, and Jimmy Cobb on drums. That version was released on The Complete Columbia Recordings of Miles Davis with John Coltrane and featured more extended solos than on the Birth of the Cool version.


Not long after the original recordings of “Hallucinations” and “Budo”, Oscar Peterson took on “Budo” for his At the Concertgebouw record, released in 1957 with Peterson at the piano along with Herb Ellis on guitar and Ray Brown on bass. (For what it is worth, despite the album’s title, this was apparently recorded in Chicago.) Although this is billed as “Budo”, the trio jumps right into the “Hallucinations” melody without the introduction that was added to “Budo” on Birth of the Cool, sounding more like Bud Powell’s arrangement than Miles’. With Peterson’s piano taking the lead, they play through the head and then launch into a guitar solo starting at about 0:30. Ellis gets into a really fine groove at about 1:00 and then hits on some bent, bluesy notes at about 1:15 or so. He continues his virtuosic solo until about 2:00, then comes to an abrupt end. It seems to take Peterson by surprise, as his piano solo begins a bar or two later after leaving some space for Brown’s walking bassline (it’s entirely possible that he just wanted to leave some space for the walking bass, of course). Peterson takes a similarly virtuosic solo following on Ellis’ guitar, backed mostly by subtle guitar chords, except for some oddly enthusiastic chords around 3:00 or so. At about 3:50, Peterson returns to the “Hallucinations” melody. They play through the head and then add a brief tag at the end of this, around 4:15. Although this is labeled as “Budo”, it seems that the trio here actually sticks closer to Powell’s version of the tune. A rose by any other name, I suppose. The recording quality isn’t always perfect on this, but it’s a rewarding listen because of the great solos from both Ellis and Peterson, backed by a fine bassline throughout.


Decades after Birth of the Cool, Joe Lovano revisited “Budo” in a duet with Hank Jones on piano, released on their 2007 Kids: Live at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola album. Jones’ piano introduces the tune in the same way that the brass came in on Birth of the Cool, and then Lovano’s sax joins for the head that “Budo” shares with “Hallucinations.” It’s a cool duet arrangement with the piano and sax stating the theme in unison at some points, while sometimes Jones plays chords and basslines underneath the sax. Starting at about 0:45, Lovano’s sax takes the lead over Jones’ piano backing. He sticks close to the tune’s melody while improvising on and around it. A surprisingly wild sax line at about 1:25 or 1:30 after a fairly gentle ride until that point, and then Lovano digs in a bit more after that. Lovano hands the reins to Jones at about 2:00 for an unaccompanied piano solo. Jones similarly keeps the “Hallucinations”/”Budo” melody in mind, though he probably moves away from it a bit more than Lovano’s sax improvisation. At about 3:05, Lovano’s sax returns as the pair of them make their way back to the head. At about 3:45, they return to the portion that was added for “Budo”, but not present in “Hallucinations”, and then bring the tune to a close. Great playing from both Jones and Lovano on this version of the tune, with fine improvisation from both of them. The end of Lovano’s sax solo was probably the highlight, but good stuff all around.

Bobby McFerrin’s self-titled solo album from 1982 featured his version of “Hallucinations”, with McFerrin’s multi-tracked vocal lines covering both the bass and the melody, building an effective duet with himself that contrasts nicely with the Lovano/Jones version above. After singing through the head, he takes a vocal solo over a walking vocal bassline. There’s nothing not to like about this, and just thinking about how he could have possibly made this multi-tracked come together so well is mind-boggling, particularly when he comes back to the head out of the vocal solo just after 1:30. Not a definitive version of the tune, but of course you want to listen to this one. McFerrin also did this tune as a duet with Chick Corea in a live show in 2012, well worth checking out and taking the tune in a different direction.


In 1987, George Shearing released Breakin’ Out, with Shearing at the piano along with Ray Brown on bass (who also played “Budo” with Oscar Peterson three decades earlier, above) and Marvin “Smitty” Smith on drums. Here, they start with the piano playing the introductory chords from Miles’ version of the tune, and then they move into the “Hallucinations” head, here with a light, bouncy feel. All three members of the trio really give it this feeling, a really joyful sound. Shearing takes a casually virtuosic piano solo out after they play through the head. Like many of the versions of the tune in this column, he keeps the melody front and center while improvising. At about 2:00, this arrangement has some open drum breaks for Smith, who takes the opportunity to add some really great fills (which, incidentally, were recorded with a nice stereo sound in your headphones). After these sections for drum fills, there’s a brief section left open for Brown to add a little bass fill before the trio moves back into the tune’s head. Then at 3:30 or so they return to the little “Budo” addition to the tune and take it out with Smith’s cymbals. A great, bouncy piano trio version of “Budo” here.

Keith Jarrett’s trio with Gary Peacock on bass and Jack DeJohnette on drums played “Hallucinations” on their Whisper Not album, recorded live in Paris in 1999. Jarrett’s solo piano introduces this version of the tune before DeJohnette’s hi-hats join in along with Peacock’s bass. Holy cow, what an opening out of the head into Jarrett’s solo at about 0:30! (Nearly enough to make the vocalizations passable…) That ascending line from Jarrett leads to a fantastic solo over the excellent walking bassline and swinging drums. Like Powell, Jarrett’s solo is very much based on the melody, even as (around 1:40 or so) he gets into a sort of pointillistic sort of thing and the melody becomes abstracted. Really, what do you say about this solo? Jarrett is absolutely killing it – short of Powell himself, what more could you hope for from a pianist on this tune? The trio is swinging and locked together, rock-solid backing from DeJohnette and Peacock behind the piano. Jarrett finishes his piano solo and Peacock takes a walking bass solo at about 4:00. Jarrett returns for a quick phrase, followed by an open drum break for DeJohnette. This continues for a bit, with DeJohnette getting in some really great rolls (check that second drum break out). Then at 5:25, they return to the “Hallucinations” theme and play through the head. Phew… this is incredible stuff, almost exhausting to listen to given the energy that these three musicians are putting into the music. Really amazing, showing how far out a tune can be taken within an acoustic piano trio context – there’s lots of examples where a tune is re-contextualized by playing with different instruments or giving it a modern backbeat, but Jarrett, Peacock, and DeJohnette just swing the hell out of “Hallucinations”, doing the tune proud.

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Kenny Barron’s excellent 2005 album Images, with Stefon Harris on vibes, Anne Drummond on flute, Kiyoshi Kitagawa on bass, and Kim Thompson on drums, featured this quintet’s take on “Hallucinations.” They have the flute and vibes stating the melody over a walking bassline and piano chords. At about 0:20, Barron joins the melodic line briefly so the flute, piano, and vibes all play in unison, then returns to playing chords through the head. Following the head, Barron takes a piano solo over a walking bassline and Thompson’s drumming. This version has a head of steam behind it, both in terms of the tempo and the way that the band pushes the tune forward. After a brief piano solo, Harris takes a vibes solo starting around 1:45 or so, accompanied by the drums and bass as well as Barron’s comping. A too-short vibes solo is followed by a similarly brief flute solo from Drummond. The flute here is an interesting difference from the versions above, and Drummond does a fantastic job with this tune. After the flute solo, there is space for some open drum breaks, and then the band returns to the “Hallucinations” head, arranged similarly to the opening with the flute and vibes playing the melody in unison. A really great, all-too-brief version of the tune; it would be great to hear Barron, Harris, and Drummond get a chance to stretch out more on this. As it is, the front-line combination of piano, flute, and vibes is an interesting one – this could become light and insubstantial, but the way this quintet pushes forward (thanks in no small part to the strong rhythm section) that’s never a problem. Great stuff.


This isn’t everything, of course. This tune has been done by Charles Mingus (as “Budo”), Ellis Marsalis (as “Hallucinations”), Cedar Walton (“Hallucinations”), Hank Mobley and Lee Morgan (“Budo”), Joey DeFrancesco (“Hallucinations”), and many others. Plenty of space for great improvisations, as the versions above show. Whatever the instrumentation, ranging from solo piano to the nonet on Birth of the Cool, this tune is a masterpiece of the bop era. Keep listening.

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