This is the very definition of hard bop. It's a 5-star ensemble playing at the peak of its power. Every song is masterful. The ballads are tender and poignant. The bop is breakneck and invigorating. Every one of the musicians is at the top of his game. It's likely Blakely never recorded a better live setand that's saying something. It's not a Horace Silver record, per se. Silver was still young and on the cusp of fame. But he's brilliant. If you buy just one Horace Silver CD, this would be my pick.
Fast forward 42 years to 1996.
Horace Silver was 68 and past his prime. A critic tagged him "the hard bop grandpop." Silver liked the name so much, he used it as an album title. Following Blakey's lead, he surrounded himself with younger musicians, notably four horn players, including Michael Brecker
I won't pretend that The Hard bop Grandpop was the Jazz Messengers reincarnated. But it's very good. It's probably better than a 68-year-old has any right sounding. The mood is different. It's not hard bop exactly, despite the title. There's more soul. The brass really takes the forefront. Silver takes his solos, and they are very good, but he mostly lets the younger guys shine. (Though Silver wrote corny lyrics for half of the songs, he wisely decided against using a singer. The CD is entirely instrumental, though he included the lyrics in the liner notes, for anyone who wants to follow along.) It includes tributes to Coleman Hawkins
and even a tune based on a teapot whistle. All of it is wonderful and lyrical and soulful.
No, it's not vintage Silver. It's not as good as the Blakey/Jazz Messenger stuff. So maybe it's only 4-star CD. With legends in late-career, you adjust your palette. This is enjoyable music. It's not fair to compare Paul McCartney in 2007 to Paul McCartney in 1968. It's the same in jazz. Even so, sometimes a lion in winter is still a majestic thing.
Track Listing: I Want You; The Hippest Cat in Hollywood; Gratitude; Hawkin'; I Got the
Blues in Santa Cruz; We've Got Silver at Six; The Hard Bop Grandpop; The
Lady from Johannesburg; Serenade to a Teakettle; Diggin' on Dexter
Personnel: Horace Silver, piano; Claudio Roditi, trumpet; Michael Brecker, tenor
sax; Steve Turre, trombone; Ronnie Cuber, baritone sax; Ron Carter,
bass; Lewis Nash, drums