380

Horace Silver: Finger Poppin

Rex  Butters By

Sign in to view read count
Horace Silver: Finger Poppin 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 .


Shop

More Articles

Read Northern Adventures CD/LP/Track Review Northern Adventures
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 28, 2017
Read Collider CD/LP/Track Review Collider
by John Sharpe
Published: February 28, 2017
Read Eos CD/LP/Track Review Eos
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 28, 2017
Read More Than This CD/LP/Track Review More Than This
by Henning Bolte
Published: February 28, 2017
Read Road to Forever CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Avenida Graham CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read "Jazzin' Around Christmas" CD/LP/Track Review Jazzin' Around Christmas
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 8, 2016
Read "Checkpoint" CD/LP/Track Review Checkpoint
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 16, 2016
Read "Vars & Kaper:Deconstruction" CD/LP/Track Review Vars & Kaper:Deconstruction
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 29, 2016
Read "Vanheusenism: A Tribute To Jimmy Van Heusen" CD/LP/Track Review Vanheusenism: A Tribute To Jimmy Van Heusen
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 3, 2016
Read "Blooming Tall Phlox" CD/LP/Track Review Blooming Tall Phlox
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 16, 2016
Read "The Roc" CD/LP/Track Review The Roc
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 28, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

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!

Buy it!