Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

380

Horace Silver: Finger Poppin

Rex  Butters By

Sign in to view read count
Horace Silver’s trademark features—often sunny compositions and treacherous, tight arrangements as well as his preferred quintet format and enthusiastic embrace of bop, Latin, blues, and folk melodies—mark him as a mid-century creative wellspring that continues to inform jazz. Along with Art Blakey, Silver helped create what became known as the Blue Note sound. Swing era listeners intimidated by the “Chinese music” of bop found plenty to love in Silver’s inclusive synthesis. Only Lee Morgan compares as a composer of catchy, danceable, and personalized tunes from that period.

For many, the Blue Mitchell/Junior Cook frontline defines the Horace Silver Quintet. Although they’d appeared on a few jazz sessions, their experiences in R&B and early rock bands endowed them with an economical style that never lost sight of the fun. Their five-year tenure with Silver beginning here in 1959 made them sought-after players. Silver’s blues based romps and bottomless trunk of infectious melodies provided the vehicles for their forays into jazz history.

Opening on the title track, Mitchell/Cook/Silver state a breakneck theme in unison; thirty seconds later, the solos begin. Silver gives Mitchell’s whirlwind fairly straightforward support, content to sit back at top speed with Louis Hayes and Gene Taylor. But when Cook jumps out of the plane, Silver gets giddy and suggests the Cecil Taylor of Coltrane Time. The pianist’s own solo over the rampaging rhythm section plays with time, quotes, bunches notes. He’s subversively modern yet solidly earthy.

“Juicy Lucy” features the horns elegantly arranged in Silver’s mid-tempo tribute to big women. Taking the first solo, he repeatedly jams a chord before strolling the melody home. Mitchell shows off his warm tone and blues sense before handing off to Cook. “Swingin’ the Samba” gives the keys to Cook after an insanely quick reading of the theme. The tenor player gives it a sturdy run, but Hayes’ busy rim work steals the thunder from Silver's take. None of this prepares the listener for the deep melancholy of “Sweet Stuff,” a trio arrangement devastated by minors. Deeply introverted, Silver plays few notes hesitatingly, augmenting the overall despair.

“Cookin’ at the Continental” returns to Silver’s manic phase with an embouchure erasing arrangement executed flawlessly by the horns. His solo provides yet another reminder what a huge fan Ramsey Lewis is. “Come on Home” features a two-beat insinuation that obviously spoke to Henry Mancini. On the other hand, “You Happened My Way” echoes Ellington’s “I’ve Got it Bad” in chorus except for some wellplaced minors. “Mellow D” ends the set up-tempo.

Five years after this recording, this productive working band would break up and Silver would scale new heights with a new group recording, Song for My Father, taking the Blue Note sound to its biggest audience yet.

This review originally appeared in All About Jazz: Los Angeles .



Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Baby It's Cold Outside CD/LP/Track Review Baby It's Cold Outside
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 13, 2017
Read Wrong Turns And Dead Ends CD/LP/Track Review Wrong Turns And Dead Ends
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 13, 2017
Read Lavaman CD/LP/Track Review Lavaman
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 13, 2017
Read Paimon: Book of Angels Volume 32 CD/LP/Track Review Paimon: Book of Angels Volume 32
by Don Phipps
Published: December 13, 2017
Read Bad Hombre CD/LP/Track Review Bad Hombre
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 12, 2017
Read Aladdin's Dream CD/LP/Track Review Aladdin's Dream
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 12, 2017
Read "Christmas With Champian" CD/LP/Track Review Christmas With Champian
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 19, 2017
Read "The Better Angels of Our Nature" CD/LP/Track Review The Better Angels of Our Nature
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 20, 2017
Read "Originals For the Originals" CD/LP/Track Review Originals For the Originals
by Paul Rauch
Published: November 20, 2017
Read "Gentle Giants" CD/LP/Track Review Gentle Giants
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 29, 2017
Read "Peninsular" CD/LP/Track Review Peninsular
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: April 16, 2017
Read "Cantos Invisíveis" CD/LP/Track Review Cantos Invisíveis
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 13, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!