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Various Artists: Funky Pieces Of Silver: The Horace Silver Songbook (2008)

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In the first of a series called The Composer Collection, High Note Records pays tribute to pianist and jazz great Horace Silver with a collection of soulful classics called Funky Pieces Of Silver: The Horace Silver Songbook. The disc, a compilation of tracks from various High Note recordings, features swinging interpretations of Silver compositions led by saxophonist Houston Person, organists Joey DeFrancesco, 'Papa' John DeFrancesco and Charles Earland—four of the nine tracks are taken from Earland recordings—, drummer Joe Chambers and trumpeter Russell Gunn.

The abundance of organists speaks to the flexible nature of Silver's tunes—they would work well in any combination. Where there's organ, there's usually guitar, and this collection is no exception. The A-list of soulful six-stringer's includes Bob DeVos, Randy Johnston, Eric Johnson, Paul Bollenback and Melvin Sparks. Hats go off to the veteran Sparks who out-greases everyone with his blues-heavy swinging on "Sister Sadie" and "Song For My Father."

Silver's recordings are characteristically associated with the front-line sound of trumpet and tenor sax. Here, the four Earland tracks feature the pairing of One For All bandmates Jim Rotundi (trumpet) and Eric Alexander (tenor saxophone). The two are stylistically in-sync on the fast-paced "Blowing the Blues Away" and "Quicksilver."

Chambers' Afro-Cuban take on "The Outlaw" serves as a refreshing change of pace to all the organ grinding. Here, Chambers puts in an impressive performance on vibes, while percussionist Bobby Sanabria lays down a thick, poly-rhythmic groove. Another gem is the under-recorded "African Queen," performed here by trumpeter Gunn in an organ quartet.

When considering the compositional output of Silver, one realizes that his mark on modern jazz is nothing short of staggering. It would take a box-set worth of material to constitute a proper tribute, but this sure is a good start.


Track Listing: Sister Sadie; Juicy Lucy; Blowing the Blues Away; The Preacher; African Queen; Song For My Father; Strollin?; The Outlaw; Quicksilver.

Personnel: Charles Earland: organ (1,3,7,9); Joey DeFrancesco: organ (4), trumpet (6); Radam Schwartz: organ (5); 'Papa' John DeFrancesco: (6); Melvin Sparks: guitar (1,6); Paul Bollenback: guitar (2); Bob DeVos: guitar (3,7,9); Randy Johnston: guitar (4); Eric Johnson: guitar (5); Houston Person: tenor saxophone (2); Eric Alexander: tenor saxophone (1,3,7,9); Bootsie Barnes: tenor saxophone (6); Logan Richardson: alto saxophone (8); Jim Rotundi: trumpet (1,3,7,9); Stan Hope: piano (2); Misha Tsiganov: piano (8); Per-Ola-Gadd: bass (2); Dwayne Burno: bass (8); Bobby Durham: drums (1); Greg Rockingham: drums (3,7,9); Billy Hart: drums (4); Chip White: drums (2); Cecil Brooks III: drums (5); Byron Landham: drums (6); Joe Chambers: drums, mallets (8); Gary Fritz: percussion (1); Kevin Jones: percussion (6); Bobby Sanabria: percussion (8).

Record Label: HighNote Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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