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Jazz Articles

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

Horace Silver: The United States of Mind – Revisited

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At what point did Blue Note Records jump the shark? Is there a single moment when Blue Note stopped being the world's greatest purveyor of jazz and instead became an irrelevant producer of schlock? Truth is, it was a long, slow slide. In the 1950s, Blue Note was the greatest source of hard bop. In the 1960s, it produced the best soul-jazz on earth. And then, one day in the 1970s--poof! It was all gone. Where did it ...

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

Horace Silver: Serenade to a Soul Sister - 1968

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Is 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, ...

BUILDING A JAZZ LIBRARY

Blue Note's Golden Decade

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Blue Note! For many of us, the words alone are enough to send a tingle down the spine, conjuring up the indefinable magic of a golden age of jazz. What were the elements that made classic Blue Note records so special? The look? The feel? The sound? All of these and more. Alfred Lion's production? Francis Wolff's photography? Reid Miles design? Rudy Van Gelder's engineering? None of these alone is an essential element, but when all four come together you've ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Horace Silver Quintet: June 1977 (livelove Series Vol 2)

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When the Horace Silver Quintet took the stage in Bremen in June, 1977, Silver was nearing the end of his long association with Blue Note Records. Much of the band's book was drawn from recent albums: the title tune from In Pursuit of the 27th Man (Blue Note, 1973), and two each from Silver 'N Brass (Blue Note, 1975) and Silver 'N Voices (Blue Note, 1976). Producer Peter Schulze's liner notes tell the story of how the show also became ...

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

Horace Silver: Six Pieces of Silver – Blue Note 1539

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Yep, this is the “Senor Blues" album. That's not the name, obviously, but it could be. This outstanding hard bop CD, recorded by Horace Silver's quintet in 1956, has 10 tracks, and three of them are “Senor Blues." No wonder. It's arguably the best track in the collection--a Spanish-tinged slow blues toe-tapper. Even so, three versions may be one too many. First, there's the album version. It's a 7-minute original by Silver himself. It's a groovy ...

NEW YORK BEAT

Horace Silver: Recollections and Retrospections

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In the halcyon days of the first Birdland (the early 50's) Monday night was jam session night and the house rhythm section featured a young pianist named Horace Silver. Though in his early 20's (he was born in 1928) Silver appeared much younger and his diminutive figure at the keyboard is still etched in my mind intensely pouring out the hot-tempoed lines of the still-novel bebop literature. I, together with my fellow musician friends, sat there mesmerized as he gushed ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Horace Silver: The Hard Bop Grandpop

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With musicians, and artists generally, there's a tendency to think the best work is the earliest. It's usually true. Paul McCartney was never better than when he recorded with the Beatles. Chuck Berry's best work was the early hits like “Johnny B. Goode" and “Roll Over Beethoven." Tom Wolfe hasn't written anything as good as “The Right Stuff" and “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test." So it is, too, with jazz musicians. Dizzy Gillespie's seminal work came ...

INTERVIEWS

Horace Silver: Blue Note Records and His Lady Music

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The Q&A portion of this article first appeared on KPFK 90.7 FM (Los Angeles) in 1974. 75 years ago Blue Note Records was started by two German immigrants who loved jazz and believed that the music should be heard and preserved. Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff collaborated and built the Blue Note vault of music that included the artistry of immortals: Miles Davis, Sonny Clark, Sidney Bechet, Clifford Brown, Art Blakey, The Jazz Messengers, Lee Morgan, Freddie ...


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