Horace Silver: Retrospective (2002)

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The hugeness of Horace Silver's musical legacy remains unforgivably unavailable. Blue Note Records, to which the pianist and composer gave outlet to his vast and historically significant discography over a full quarter century, is easily to blame for such inexcusable oversight. This four-disc collection, however, attempts to amass Silver's significance in one fell swoop. Designed as it is for deep pockets, it's a bit too much. Still, Silver deserves far more.

Retrospective spans the amazing period of time Silver spent with Blue Note between 1952 and 1980. As such, it is as much a retrospective of the label as it is a significant reflection of jazz over the middle part of the 20th century.

Representing music from about 17 of Silver's three dozen Blue Notes, the finest musicians in the history of jazz and some of their best recorded work, Retrospective ultimately celebrates one of the best writers and pianists in jazz. Horace Silver (b. 1928) is revealed here to be a melodicist of the first order, one who can tell the most sophisticated, logical and musical of stories without ever pummeling listeners with technique or show-boat styling.

Consider the sheer volume of 'hits' alone: "Ecaroh," "Opus de Funk," "Doodlin'," "The Preacher," "Senor Blues," "Sister Sadie," "Blowin' the Blues Away," "Song For My Father" and "Psychedelic Sally." These endure as some of the cleverest-ever bits of bop. Silver's contribution to the formation of bop's soulful equivalent - funk - is in plentiful evidence here too, even as far back as his sparkling trio work from 1952-53 (Horace without horns!).

The collection offers more than hits too. One full disc (2) is given over to honoring Silver's longest running front line, featuring tenor man Junior Cook and trumpeter Blue Mitchell (1960-64). Another full disc (4) explores Silver's least known, but no less important work from the 1970s - a period when he began adding lyrics and singers and exploring more holistic and metaphysical themes (kept to a minimum here). Still, the music sounds remarkably compatible with what precedes it, offering Silver's still-intact compositional magic and vibrant early work from Michael and Randy Brecker, Bob Berg and Tom Harrell.

The star power on these sessions signifies an overall importance. Tenors are manned by the likes of Hank Mobley, Clifford Jordan, Junior Cook, Joe Henderson, Stanley Turrentine, Harold Vick, Bob Berg and Michael Brecker. And the trumpets come directly from Donald Byrd, Kenny Dorham, Art Farmer. Blue Mitchell, Woody Shaw, Charles Tolliver, Randy Brecker, Cecil Bridgewater and Tom Harrell. Surely, this should be enough.

But Retrospective also includes detailed liner notes from critic Zan Stewart, photos by Francis Wolff and others (featuring the various dos of Silver throughout the years). It all adds up to a timeless microcosm of this important jazz icon - and a significant sample of 20th century jazz. A grand encounter indeed.

Tracks: Disc One:Safari; Ecaroh; Opus De Funk; Doodlin'; The Preacher; Cool Eyes; Senor Blues; Home Cookin'; Soulville; The Outlaw; Senior Blues (Vocal Version); Swingin' The Samba; Cookin' At The Continental; Juicy Lucy;Disc Two:Sister Sadie; Peace; Blowin' The Blues Away; Strollin'; Nica's Dream; Filthy McNasty; The Tokyo Blues; Sayonara Blues; Silver's Serenade;Disc Three:Song For My Father; Que Pasa; The Cape Verdean Blues; Nutville; The Jody Grind; Mexican Hip Dance; Serenade To A Soul Sister; Psychedelic Sally; It's Time; The Happy Medium; Peace; Old Mother Nature Calls;Disc FourHow Much Does Matter Really Matter; All; In Pursuit Of The 27th Man; Gregory Is Here; Barbara; Adjustment; The Tranquilizer Suite; The Process Of Creation Suite; All In Time; The Soul And It's Expression.

Musicians:: Horace Silver: piano, vocals on "All" with various groups including Hank Mobley, Clifford Jordan, Junior Cook, Joe Henderson, Stanley Turrentine, Harold Vick, Bob Berg, Michael Brecker: tenor sax; James Spaulding: flute; Donald Byrd, Kenny Dorham, Art Farmer. Blue Mitchell, Woody Shaw, Charles Tolliver, Randy Brecker, Cecil Bridgewater, Tom Harrell: trumpet; J.J. Johnson: trombone; Richie Resnicoff: guitar; Doug Watkins, Teddy Kotick, Teddy Smith, Gene Ramey, Larry Ridley, Gene Taylor, Bob Cranshaw, Ron Carter: bass; Art Blakey, Louis Hayes, John Harris Jr., Roger Humphries, Roy Brooks, Mickey Roker, Al Foster: drums; David Friedman: vibes on "In Pursuit of the 27th Man"; Gail Nelson: vocals on "How Much Does Matter Really Matter."

Record Label: Blue Note Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream

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