Selection 1: Song For My Father (Silver)
Selection 2: The Natives are Restless Tonight (Silver)
End to end analog output from fifty year old original Blue Note vinyl, pulled off a preamp with previously unused Telefunken valves manufactured in Berlin 1961, phono amp with Telefunken tubes from 1963, a year from when Silver recorded this. Inevitably, digitised for you to stream, at 320 kbps, the highest resolution supported by WordPress. Headphones recommended.
Three dates, two line-ups, recorded a year apart:
|Calcutta Cutie||Lonely Woman|
Blue Mitchell (trumpet) Junior Cook (tenor saxophone) Horace Silver (piano) Gene Taylor (bass) Roy Brooks (drums) Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, October 31, 1963 and January 28, 1964
|The Kicker||Que Pasa||The Natives Are Restless Tonight||Song For My Father|
Carmell Jones (trumpet) Joe Henderson (tenor saxophone) Horace Silver (piano) Teddy Smith (bass) Roger Humphries (drums) Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, October 26, 1964
We lost Horace last week, June 18, so it’s fitting to carry out a retrospective, which will feature in the next few posts.
If a piano could smile, that’s what Silver’s playing would make it do. Song For My Father was probably his most widely recognised composition, though myself I like the slightly darker second selection from this essential album, featuring Joe Henderson’s energetic rasping drive, an asset to any recording.
Hailing originally from Cape Verde, a distinctive melting pot of West African and Portuguese culture, Silver is resolutely in the American mainstream hard bop tradition, to my ear, no trace of the Cabo Verde’s tango-like Morna in those keys. His rhythmic and percussive style made a natural home on Blue Note records for over two decades,
One of the founders of The Jazz Messengers, he split early on in 1956 form his own quintet, making space for others, starting his own finishing school. He is always found in good company, at home in quintet format perhaps more than in trio, moving naturally between rhythm section and front line.
I get this chart out often as a reminder of what an extraordinary bop finishing school The Jazz Messengers were, a launch-pad for so many essential artists. Silver’s departure leaves Wayne Shorter one of the last Messengers standing.
Of his later work after Blue Note, I confess I followed little. There is so much good music within the Blue Note years, the urge to explore further never really arose after The Jody Grind and I assumed necessarily more commercial directions of the ’70s and ’80s.
However I dusted off some of the earlier work, and was reminded how solid and assured was his place in the bop milieu, making a virtue of being a team player par excellence.
Eschewing harmonic complexity and introspection, Silver I think personified happy good old-fashioned accessible piano playing in the blues and gospel manner. Silver was by all accounts a happy positive person. In his picture he is always smiling, so is his playing.
“I personally do not believe in politics, hatred or anger in my musical composition … Musical composition should bring happiness and joy to people and make them forget their troubles.”
Some of my favourite tunes are found nestling in the Silver section of the vinyl shelf, such as Senor Blues, Filthy McNasty, anything from Blowin’ The Blues Away.
Vinyl: BLP 4185
Not deep Groove, which first mono pressing should be, but all other elements tie in (ear, Van Gelder, NY labels, Keystone typesetting, so not a subsequent Liberty. This title was a big seller for Horace and I guess went for repressing for more copies. At the time, 1965, deep groove was beginning to disappear, and records turn up frequently with a groove just one side, or none at all. My guess, simply Blue Note subsequent pressing, probably later in 1965.
Horace Silver album’s are generally not hard to come by. He was a popular artist who sold well and so fails to garner the “Rare!” sellers premium. So there is no excuse for not having some of his essential albums. Occasionally I reflect on why records are “Rare” and therefore expensive. Sometimes it is because they were not very good and didn’t sell well. That can’t be said for Horace.
Any favourites out there?