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Horace Silver: Horace Silver: Serenade to a Soul Sister - 1968

Marc Davis By

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Serenade to a Soul Sister is an album that is very much of its time–a mix of ‘60s funk and ‘50s bop.
Enter the album name hereIs it possible to love an album for just one song? I think I do.

Serenade to a Soul Sister is the happy marriage of jazz's funkiest pianist (Horace Silver) with its most soulful saxman (Stanley Turrentine). Throw in a fabulously underrated trumpeter with a big fat tone (Charles Tolliver) and you've got one of the best soul-jazz classics of the 1960s.

Serenade features six original compositions by Silver, and every one is a gem. One, however, is shinier than the rest. The album's opener, "Psychedelic Sally," is one of the catchiest, most joyful jazz tunes ever recorded.

Start with a propulsive bass line, as every good funk tune should. Add a happy theme stated by the horns in tandem. Throw in a positively bluesy sax solo, then a powerful trumpet turn, and finally the ever-reliable Silver doing his best juke-joint piano solo. The result is a recording that is every bit as soulful and rockin' as anything ever put to vinyl in the late 1960s. This is a happy, up-tempo, rollicking seven-minute classic.

The rest of Serenade is plenty good—a truly happy, upbeat record—just not up to the standard of the opening cut.

The first three tunes, including "Psychedelic Sally," feature a quintet with Silver, Turrentine and Tolliver. These are bluesy, funky numbers. The last three tunes feature a different quintet, replacing Turrentine with Bennie Maupin, plus a new bassman and drummer. It's a different feel. Maupin seems more boppish and less funky than Turrentine—not a bad thing, just different.

The result is an album that is very much of its time—a mix of '60s funk and '50s bop. The whole thing ends with a piano trio ballad called "Next Time I Fall in Love." It's all very nice. But "Psychedelic Sally" is the tune you came for, and I don't mind listening to it over and over again.

Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)

Availability: Easy to find

Cost: Under $4 used

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