Yep, this is the Senor Blues" album. That's not the name, obviously, but it could be. This outstanding hard bop CD, recorded by Horace Silver's quintet in 1956, has 10 tracks, and three of them are Senor Blues." No wonder. It's arguably the best track in the collection--a Spanish-tinged slow blues toe-tapper. Even so, three versions may be one too many. First, there's the album version. It's a 7-minute original by Silver himself. It's a groovy piece with a catchy hook, featuring nice bluesy solos by Donald Byrd on trumpet, Hank Mobley on tenor sax and ...read more
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, ...read more
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 ...read more
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 ...read more
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 ...read more
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 ...read more
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 ...read more
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