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Horace Silver: Recollections and Retrospections

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In the halcyon days of the first Birdland (the early 50's) Monday night was jam session night and the house rhythm section featured a young pianist named Horace Silver. Though in his early 20's (he was born in 1928) Silver appeared much younger and his diminutive figure at the keyboard is still etched in my mind intensely pouring out the hot-tempoed lines of the still-novel bebop literature. I, together with my fellow musician friends, sat there mesmerized as he gushed line after line of hard-swinging bop melodies chorded with the hip harmonic sounds that were all the rage. Sweating heavily, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Horace Silver: The Hard Bop Grandpop

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With musicians, and artists generally, there's a tendency to think the best work is the earliest. It's usually true. Paul McCartney was never better than when he recorded with the Beatles. Chuck Berry's best work was the early hits like “Johnny B. Goode" and “Roll Over Beethoven." Tom Wolfe hasn't written anything as good as “The Right Stuff" and “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test." So it is, too, with jazz musicians. Dizzy Gillespie's seminal work came in the 1940s and the birth of bebop. Chick Corea, while still solid and dependable, did his best work with ...

INTERVIEWS

Horace Silver: Blue Note Records and His Lady Music

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The Q&A portion of this article first appeared on KPFK 90.7 FM (Los Angeles) in 1974. 75 years ago Blue Note Records was started by two German immigrants who loved jazz and believed that the music should be heard and preserved. Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff collaborated and built the Blue Note vault of music that included the artistry of immortals: Miles Davis, Sonny Clark, Sidney Bechet, Clifford Brown, Art Blakey, The Jazz Messengers, Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard, and Horace Tavares Silver, from Norwalk, Connecticut. Silver stayed with Blue Note Records for 28 years until ...

REASSESSING

Horace Silver: Song For My Father

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Horace Silver Song For My Father Blue Note Records 1963 The nice thing about reissuing classic, fifty year-old records is the benefit of hindsight; delving into a well-established catalog that's been lauded for decades helps ensure that every release will be desirable. The classic Blue Note Records catalog of the 1950s and '60s is about as evergreen a collection of albums as could be imagined. There are so many great titles that it's difficult, if not impossible, to find a stinker in the lot. In reissuing a true classic like Horace Silver's ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Horace Silver: The Cape Verdean Blues

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Any review of an XRCD extended resolution CD reissue of hard bop pianist Horace Silver's The Cape Verdean Blues is going to be as much about the success of the format as it is about the music.The music on old recordings, re-released in expensive high-tech format by specialist Elusive Disc (in it's series of Blue Note album transfers from the original master tapes) is presumed to have artistic value, otherwise no one would bother with such an expensive, high-tech reissue. In this case the music is above reproach. Silver's band in the 1960s was almost as ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Horace Silver: Finger Poppin'

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Finger Poppin' (1959) followed Silver's most under-appreciated (and perhaps most ambitious) Blue Note date, Further Explorations (1958). The cast is different (though the fiery Louis Hayes remains on drums), but the compositions and arrangements by Silver are no less artful and the soloists as inspired as the frontline of Art Farmer and Clifford Jordan from the preceding album. This time it's Blue Mitchell and Junior Cook negotiating the fast tempo and tricky stop-and-go melodies with precision and ease, with Mitchell impressively setting the pace with the first solo on the date. He's crisp, lyrical, inventive, melodic--reminiscent of Kenny Dorham with ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Horace Silver: Live at Newport '58

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From his first recordings with the Jazz Messengers in 1954, Horace Silver's values as pianist, bandleader and composer have been clearly evident: buoyant swing propelled by strong riffs and ensemble drive, along with expressive, edited-in-advance solos. There's a kind of controlled enthusiasm at the center of Silver's music, a slightly formal celebration that owes much to gospel music and the classic Basie band of the '30s. Live recordings of the Silver Quintet at its peak in the late '50s and early '60s were once rare. Only Doin' the Thing (at the Village Gate) (Blue Note) from 1961 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Horace Silver: Live at Newport '58

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The John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk Quartet earth-shaker At Carnegie Hall (Blue Note, 2005) set a pretty high watermark, and other historical recordings inevitably have a lot to live up to. Pianist Horace Silver's Live at Newport '58 is very good, and is certainly historically significant, but is it Carnegie Hall good? Perhaps not quite.

Silver had brought a new group to headline the Sunday afternoon session at the Newport Jazz Festival. That group would turn out to be four-fifths of the quintessential Horace Silver Quintet: trumpeter Blue Mitchell was two months away from joining the ...

DVD/VIDEO/FILM REVIEWS

Blue Note: A Story of Modern Jazz

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Blue Note: A Story of Modern JazzDirector: Julian Benedikt EuroArts 2007 Blue Note was not the only jazz label recording America's indigenous music from the '30s through the 1960s, but it may be the only one that mattered. The title Blue Note: A Story of Modern Jazz is not an idle boast. In the 1950s and '60s, Blue Note provided urban America its soundtrack--a gritty, organic, humid music, the love child of bebop and cool jazz that came to be known as Hard Bop. But the story begins well before the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Horace Silver: Live At Newport '58

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Fifty years on, and previously unreleased, this boisterous festival performance by pianist Horace Silver's quintet is 40 minutes of hard swinging, compositionally distinguished, primo hard bop. It's also the only known recording by a band in the process of morphing from the line-up which recorded Further Explorations (Blue Note, 1958) to the one which cut Finger Poppin' (Blue Note, 1959).

The four tracks also include two outstanding but neglected pieces from the Silver canon, and the performance itself was recorded with excellent sound, presence and separation between the instruments.

Live At Newport '58 is, in short, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Horace Silver: Live at Newport '58

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Blue Note continues to bless fans with hidden gems from deep in its vaults with Live at Newport '58, a previously unreleased set catching Horace Silver in the midst of his ascent as a major creative force. Featuring a transitional line-up of the pianist's revolving quintet as they headline the famed festival, the band can be heard drawing the hard bop blueprint that would be emulated for generations after.

The four extended tunes are all Silver originals: an unusually structured composition ("The Outlaw") from what was then Silver's most recent album (Further Explorations, Blue Note, 1958), a little-known b-side ("Tippin'"), ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Horace Silver: Live At Newport '58

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Horace Silver Live At Newport '58 Blue Note 2007

For a jazz artist of such longevity, pianist Horace Silver has precious few live recordings as leader. Before Paris Blues: Olympia Theater, Paris, 1962 (Fantasy, 2003) was released, Silver's single live recording was Doin' The Thing At The Village Gate (Blue Note, 2006/1961). This fact makes any newly discovered and released live recording somewhat of an event. Enter Horace Silver Live At Newport '58.

Horace Silver Live At Newport '58 aurally details July 6, 1958 at the Newport Jazz Festival. The Horace Silver ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Horace Silver Quintet: Silver's Serenade

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What's with the producers at Blue Note/EMI? Or is it engineer Rudy Van Gelder who decides what gets reissued? Silver's Serenade is vintage, nicely representative music by the pianist-composer's best known ensemble, but it was never out of print. By contrast, one of the few Silver sessions for which the term “inspired" might apply--Further Explorations by the Horace Silver Quintet (1958)--languishes in the archives, currently available only as a pricey Japanese import.

Recorded in 1963, Silver's Serenade was the last complete recording by a cast of players first assembled in 1959. It's hard to argue against the leader's ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Horace Silver: Doin' The Thing - At The Village Gate

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Calling any of Horace Silver's Blue Note recordings outstanding is almost redundant. One, however, is especially unique, not only because of its quality, but because it is the only live recording of his most famous quintet. Although it was recorded 45 years ago, this CD has the power to transport one back in time to the smoky room at Village Gate where one feels the raw energy of the live performance. The music is quintessential hard bop with the airy, light tone of Blue Mitchell's trumpet perfectly complementing the earthy tones of Junior Cook's tenor sax. When ...



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