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Horace Silver: Blue Note Records and His Lady Music

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HS: Yeah. I like to give young musicians a chance, providing that they're capable. I don't hire anyone just because they are young. I prefer to get young cats if they are capable and can play the music to my satisfaction. Usually, young cats are very cooperative because they are trying to get across and they give you 100% cooperation, whereas sometimes older guys are more set in their ways and want to do things their way instead of trying to interpret the music the way you [the leader] want it.

Not necessarily all are like that; some of them are. I mean, we all gotta get a start someplace. Stan Getz gave me my first break. Art Blakey my second. You know those two cats really helped me to get on out here. I try to do the same thing for the two reasons I mentioned; for that reason, give guys a break and get them out here. And to also have somebody who can play and will take direction.

EH: A small bio...Where is Horace from? Many people don't know.

HS: I am from Norwalk, Connecticut.

EH: Was the 1950 gig with Stan Getz your first professional gig?

HS: Well, if you term first professional gig with a name musician. Well, I'd consider playing with professional musicians in Connecticut; but he was the first name professionally that I played with.

EH: 1974, what's happening with Horace Silver now? He's gone through The United States of Mind, phases one, two and three, and gone through many themes of music.

HS: The latest album since The United States of Mind series is an album called In Pursuit Of The 27th Man (Blue Note, 1970), with...

EH: "Liberated Brother."

HS: Correct. "Liberated Brother."

EH: What's in store for the next album?

HS: I don't give away my secrets before they come out.

EH: I think you gave away some of them tonight [at Concerts by the Sea], playing "Accept Responsibility." Some of the new things you played tonight, will they be on the album?

HS: They probably will.

EH: Hope to catch you next time. Missed you before at Redd Foxx in '70; glad you're back, not sick. And I hope the two week stint here at Concerts by the Sea will be very beautiful for you. I hope you can get some creative ideas while you are here in L.A..

HS: Well, the weather out here and the people are very conducive to creativity.

EH: Will you ever move out here?

HS: That's a possibility—who knows?

EH: Tell me one other thing. Will you stay with Blue Note?

HS: I stay where the music is. If it's out here, I have to go. Everyone goes to New York 'cause that's where the scene is; and wherever the scene moves to, that's where all the cats have to go—if they want to be on the scene.

EH: Would you say the East Coast is more conducive to black musicians starting out than the West Coast? [West Coast Cool was mostly white musicians—Buddy Collette, Teddy Edwards, Howard McGhee, and Gerald Wilson were among the few blacks on the West Coast]. Or, which area would you say is more conducive for a black musician to get started?

HS: I don't think black has anything to do with it. You can start off anywhere. Some of the baddest cats came from some small towns. New York is a proving ground for many musicians, black, white, yellow, and I would say all the major cities—L.A., 'Frisco, Chicago, New York. But, I would say New York is a strong proving ground because there is a lot of competition there, and a lot of music is going on there. You can get out and hear a lot of music, which is inspirational. Like you go out and hear somebody cook, it makes you want to go home and be proactive—go home and try to play better inspires you to further yourself.

But that same thing can happen here in L.A., 'Frisco, or Chicago. But I would say New York is about the strongest right now. It's evident L.A. is becoming stronger because a lot of guys from the east coast are moving out here [Garnett Brown, Herbie Hancock, Freddie Hubbard, Hubert Laws, Jimmy Smith, Kenny Burrell, Bennie Maupin, Oliver Nelson, Benny Golson]. So, something must be happening here. The main thing is just that, for musicians who want to play jazz is to get on the scene wherever the scene is—if it's L.A., New York, Chicago, 'Frisco, wherever all the cats are. Because you know you can learn from association. If you are around all of the heavyweights, you can learn things from them either by asking questions or playing with them—or just by listening to them, getting inspired by them. You gotta be amongst the cats who are doing it so you can do it better.

EH: You sure are loquacious-when is your birthday?

HS: September 2.

EH: My brother's birthday—you're a Virgo.

HS: I'm a Virgo.

EH: Thanks Horace, you sure got down to the Real Nitty Gritty.

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