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Horace Silver: Rockin

David Adler By

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Inspired by a dream and conceived as a stage musical that ran for three nights in Hollywood in 1991, the jazz suite Rockin’ with Rachmaninoff has finally reached listeners in CD form. For various reasons, piano great Horace Silver kept these twelve tracks on the shelf for over a decade. They find “the hard bop grandpop” in excellent form, backed by a strong cast of players: Michael Mossman on trumpet, Rickey Woodard, Ralph Bowen and Doug Webb on tenors, Andy Martin and Bob McChesney on trombones, Bob Maize on bass and Carl Burnett on drums. Andy Bey, a longtime Silver band member, appears on four cuts in strong voice (this was several years prior to his much-vaunted comeback). Vocalist Dawn Burnett delivers the seductive melody of “Satchmo’s Song,” tears it up on the brisk gospel number “Sunday Mornin’ Prayer Meetin’,” and duets with Bey on the closing title track. The lyrics to these pieces are less than stellar; perhaps they lose something in the transition from stage to studio.

The best thing about this release is that it brought Horace Silver to New York last month for a week at the Blue Note. Pianistically, the 75-year-old leader may have lost a little steam since 1991, but he wrung the very best out of tenors Eric Alexander and Ray McMorrin, trombonists Conrad Herwig and Steve Davis, bassist John Webber, drummer Joe Farnsworth and trumpeter Mossman, the only holdover from the studio session. Silver’s aesthetic remains distinctive and evergreen, and it was well served by these powerful, elegant five horn arrangements and this driving, old school New York rhythm section.

Beautifully recorded, the album sheds light on all sides of Silver’s writing personality, from the lilting waltz of “Satchmo’s Song” (as memorable a tune as he’s ever written), to the intervallic nuances of “A Ballad for Hawk,” to the easygoing grooves of “Rocky’s Overture” and “Monkeyin’ Around with Monk,” to the classic Silverian minor-key grooves of “Rocky Meets the Duke” and “Hallelujah To Ya.”

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Track Listing: 1. Rocky's Overture 2. Rocky Meets the Duke 3. Satchmo's Song 4. Monkeyin' Around With Monk 5. Ballad for Hawk 6. Skunky Funky Blues 7. Sunday Mornin' Prayer Meetin' 8. Hallelujah to Ya 9. Righteous Rumba 10. Lavender Love 11. Rockin' With Rachmaninoff

Personnel: Andy Bey: Vocals; Horace Silver: Piano; Ralph Bowen: Tenor Sax; Michael Mossman: Trumpet; Rickey Woodard: Tenor Sax; Bob Maize: Bass; Andy Martin: Trombone; Bob McChesney: Trombone; Doug Webb: Tenor Sax; Carl Burnett: Drums.

Title: Rockin | Year Released: 2004

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