Horace Silver: Song For My Father (1963-4) Blue Note


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.

Silver - Jazz has a sense of humourOf 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.



Collector’s Corner

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?


52 thoughts on “Horace Silver: Song For My Father (1963-4) Blue Note

  1. hi LJC, I have just recd and played my NY label 1st stereo press last night. wow wow wow. despite some ticks here and there due to the LP being a VG+, I was really impressed with the sound. really felt the force that has been mentioned previously by proud BN originals owners worldwide. thank you again for your replies to my qns regarding this LP purchase. truly appreciate it very much

  2. dear LJC, im abt to pull the trigger on what I think is the orig stereo pressing of song for my father. the dealer is selling it for us$55 and it has the following:
    -graded sleeve/disc VG/VG+
    – blue/white Blue Note Records Inc – New York Usa labels, deep groove on side 1 only,
    – RVG stamped in the dead wax, both sides,
    – “P” (otherwise wrongly called “ear”) for Plastylite etched in the trail off, both sides,
    – non laminated jacket,
    – 43 West 61st St., New York 23 address on back cover
    just need to check with you LJC, is this the 1st stereo pressing please? and is the price fair? I have been thinking of starting my small collection of (affordable) OG BN pressings and was thinking if this will be a good start. is it true that the official 1st pressing is the mono version? sincerely hope to hear from you. -J

    • BLP 4185 recorded October 1964, released December 1964. Oddly, the back cover should give the catalogue number in large letters as ST 84185 rather than the later form BST 84185. Side 1 only is DG, as expected. Subject to that little wrinkle regarding the catalogue number (ST) then yes, I believe you have your sights on the first stereo press. At the time, mono and stereo Blue Note new titles were issued simultaneously, so there is a first mono press and a first stereo press. First Pressing Fundamentalists of course seek the purity only of mono, but RVG stereo by late 1964 is eminently acceptable. Very fair price in my view, pull that trigger, a good place to start your addiction to original Blue Note.

      • im so elated that you have replied, thank you so much. appreciate it. yes I just checked with the seller. he mentioned that back cover top right corner. its blue note (in smaller fonts) and ST-84185 (in noticeably larger fonts) beside to the right “blue note”. top left is stereo. im glad that you feel that it is a very price. went to ebay to browse “sold” listings and prices swung wildly. i already own the gxf king press as well as a US dmm press but those 2 are still in transit. in your opinion, does this NY pressing sound better than the king pressing? thank you so much LJC. p.s. seller also mentioned that cover’s edges are peeling and it also includes a seam splitted inner sleeve. thank you LJC. gosh blue note research has affected my sleep almost on a daily basis. but it was well worth it! hehe

        • Once you hear the authentic original pressing, there is no going back. A lot of that sound is the fruit of the meticulous recording methodology developed by Van Gelder, the choice of, number of, and placement of microphones, and room dynamics, reverb tweaks on the fly, translated through his mastering on the Scully. Some of that gets lost when another engineer remasters the recording, especially from copy tape with a generation loss, unmatching equipment, solid state circuitry, and so on.

          The US Manhattan DMM’s are in my experience the worst of the Blue Note reissues. The King will be a much softer transfer, lacking the punch of the NY, likely more bloom in the bass and rolled off top end. That’s a generalisation of course, but that is mostly how they sound..

          • hi LJC, thank you again for taking the time to reply. really appreciate that. thank you for your generous input. definitely steering me in the direction of the NY 1st stereo press now. how would u rank from best to worst these 3 different pressings. im guessing it will be in this order. NY>Music Matters>King? I will definitely post here once I have received the 2 pressings in transit -us dmm and the jpn king and most likely the NY and ill do a sound comparison of the 3 song for my father pressings. 🙂

            • “Some of that gets lost when another engineer remasters the recording” just to add, I agree a million percent. I think rvg created the master tape in such a way that it will take only a specific cut in order to get that much sought after genuine blue note sound. im sure he even had the material of the plastylite vinyl in mind while creating the cut. read somewhere “if music matters can create something better than rvg, why did they create the 2x45rpm when a single 33 will do?” also read somewhere that the title track for song for my father was cut from digital while the rest were AAA. plus there was a problem with the song on side 2 – lonely woman. hmmmmm.

            • I think I am on record saying the best reissues are Music Matters 33rpm edition. I know only what I hear, but I have read the move to 33rpm coincided with a lot of cabling improvements in Kevin Grey’s set up at RTI. Far be it from me to know why, but they are sound better to me and are cheaper than 2x45rpm, which I think was an audiophile “gimmick” which added cost in return for little benefit. The other reason may be their parting of ways with Steve Hoffman. Ron and Kevin have access to and in some cases custody of orginal BN tapes, and know what to do with them, and a degree of humility regarding the skills of dear Rudy. Having said all that, I prefer the originals, though they are often not an affordable option.

              • thank you again dear LJC. I appreciate all the info you’ve gathered on this site. super useful for new generation collectors like myself all around the world. truly appreciate your priceless efforts

              • I have just ordered the NY 1st stereo LJC. will do a comparison with the other 2 pressings when all 3 have arrived. thank you so much once again for your valued response. -jason

  3. I was very happy to find a nice original stereo pressing of this record today. NY USA labels with ear. The strange thing is it is DG on side 1 only? ? ? So I’m not sure if this is a first edition, anybody know?

    • My copy is no deep groove, yours is one side deep groove, the original according to Cohen is deep groove both sides, all Plastylite. Forgive me for sounding off, but this precious DG not DG is a pain .

      The most popular BNs sold in many tens of thousands, change of stamper , change of stamper dies, honestly, it is just as likely no DG is first as both sides DG, or one side only. The selection of pressing dies was entirely random, whichever came to hand. No one knows.

      The acid test would be which inner sleeve did it come with, as these have a known chronology, and the format of review copies, which are mostly accepted as the earliest

      • Thanks for the reply, unfortunately it does not have the original inner sleeve. I was just curious about the DG on one side only as it is the only one I have

      • Hi LJC,

        I am looking to purchase Horace Silver Song for my Father LP and have the opportunity to purchase the 1996 Liberty Inc reissue with the Van Gelder stamp (NM condition) or the Music Matters 33 RPM reissue (new) at about the same price (if I include postage cost). Which version would you recommend?

        I asked this as I read separately that you prefer the MM33 reissue of Lee Morgan’s In Search for the New Land LP to the Liberty NY/no ear reissue.


        • Much as I respect the work Music Matters do, the MM33’s are the best of modern reissues, I would choose the Liberty. It is pressed from original Van Gelder master metal, the true sound of original provenance, all analog recording and manufacture from the golden era, original cover. You are fortunate to have the choice, doesn’t happen often.

          • Thanks for your quick reply. I also have the opportunity to purchase Lee Morgan’s Search for the New Land Liberty/NY no ear reissue but in VG+ condition or the MM33 reissue (new) both at similar prices. Would you still recommend the Liberty reissue with VG+ condition?


            Sent from my iPad


            • Issue here is how tightly graded that VG+ is, and whether it has Van Gelder stamp. Some Liberty were reissued on the West Coast with local remastering from copy tape, not Van Gelder. I recommend always Van Gelder. As long as its Van Gelder and you can return if you are not happy with vinyl condition, then I would also choose the Liberty over the MM33. I have bought VG+ which are Excellent, and some I would struggle to grade as Fair. Can be a subjective thing.

              • Oh yes, I forgot to mention that it has the Van Gelder stamp. Agree with you that accurate grading is key. I have decided to purchase the LP together with Lee Morgan’s Charisma LP (Liberty issue with Van Gelder stamp), as the seller has a good online reputation with feedback of accurate description from buyers. Will update you once I received them.

                Thanks very much for your invaluable advice. I must say that I really enjoyed reading your website.


    • Released in 1965, Van Gelder had by then a fine sense of stereo balancing, so it is really more a matter of preference than necessity, unlike early Van Gelder stereo where I find his hard panning makes for uncomfortable listening.

      My personal preference here would be classic mono. You have the relatively dense focus of piano, and a solid rhythm section, I’m not sure putting soloists out, in turn, on the wings improves the presentation of this particular recording.

  4. I have an original pressing of this record with Deep Groove on side 1. Does it has “Deep Groove on Both Side Label” ?

  5. I already left my first thoughts on Jazzcollector.com, but I’m more than happy to rehash them here.
    Horace Silver’s output is magnificent and for the (once in a blue moon) occasions that people ask me to DJ at their parties, you simple can’t afford to not play something from Horace. Anything from the fifties and sixties will do perfectly – “Filthy McNasty” from ‘Doin’ The Thing’, for example, is a true floor filler up to this day. Just play it again at a nice and high volume – irresistible.

    I’d also like to mention his stuff from the seventies, ’cause when you have a few good dancers in the club, every DJ will grab the ‘Silver ‘n Brass’ album and play either “Kissin’ Cousins” or “The Sophisticated Hippie”

    It’s exactly what Al wrote on Jazzcollector: it’s indeed the infectious joy in Horace Silver’s music that gets ever party started and it really does always sound as if he and all of the musicians are having a blast, that’s why his tracks work so well for DJ sets.

    So Horace Silver may have left this mortal coil, but the joy he still brings to the world with his superb music will last for a long, long, loooong time!

    Last but not least: let’s not forget that the men from Steely Dan paid tribute to Silver’s “Song For My Father” when they recorded “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number”. Just compare the two intros and you’ll notice it in an instant; listen here.

  6. Hello.

    One of my favourite jazz player.
    Great artist. In his Blue Note years, not a lot of things to drop out. I agree with you Blowin’ the Blues Away is a great album. But Finger Poppin’ is at the same level.
    Tokyo Blues is also very interesting.

    Some of his later recording are interesting. “Jazz has a sense of humor” is very good in my opinion and there is some of his characteristic swinging and funky composition on the other ones. Not the same things than in the Golden Ages 1955-1966 but still enthusiastic.

    Joe Henderson’s solo on “Song for my father” is one ot those things that I can listen again and again. It sounds like a snake charming.
    But Juicy Lucy on Finger Poppin’ and Me and My Baby on Horace-Scope are some of my favourites. But it seems impossible for me to keep only few theme of Silver….there are so many greats …

  7. Well LJC, I was fully expecting this tribute from the moment I woke up to the sad news last Friday morning – and you haven’t let us down. Thank you.

    Choosing a favourite Horace Silver track is an almost impossible task. So many spring to mind and you mentioning Filthy McNasty is certainly appropriate. I’ve have soft spot for the Fingerpoppin’ LP and I’d urge you to widen your horizon one LP further than The Jody grind to include Serenade to a Soul Sister – not only for the title track but also for the hugely enjoyable Psychedelic Sally, which I first encountered in the form or Eddie Jefferson’s vocal version.

    Your absolutely right: Horace did make the piano smile.

    • My mother would say “there is always something good that comes out of something bad“. Right again mom. I have spent the last couple of days rediscovering, and in some cases discovering for the first time, the good things in records associated with Horace. For the last year I have been flirting with “Avant-garde Light”, forgetting there was all this brilliant music already on my shelves. I’m finding myself back on main street.

      Hoisted on my own petard, at your prompting, I sat and listen through The Jody Grind this afternoon, several times. Though I dismissed it initially a few years back, and I still don’t warm to the Coltrane tribute act of Tyrone Washington, it is still a great van Gelder recording that excites, and Horace smiles.It’s great,

      I’ll name check Soul Sister, thanks for the wake-up call.

      There will be quite a few posts forthcoming on the theme of a Horace Silver Retrospective, so please keep your nominations coming in.

  8. LJC thanks for posting. I must admit I am envious of your BLP 4185 mono copy of “Song for My Father.” I only have a re-issued solid blue label copy from my college days in the sixties. As music majors, we learned how to play jazz listening to these records, and surprisingly my copy of this recording is not scratched up. I have been looking for a mono copy, but nice original mono copies are not easy to find on EBay, and the 45 rpm(s) are a tad bit pricey. (I have lately brought 45rpm when I grew tired of looking for a presentable mono copy blue note records).

    LJC I had asked you to do a blog on Horace a few weeks ago, and then he passes away last week. Thanks again for obliging us. It is interesting to see what others in the community have to say about Horace. I too love his music. My Horace favorites are “The Stylings Of Silver”, “Doin’ the Thing”, and “Tokyo Blues.”

    As I wrote in one of your earlier blogs, Horace did a really nice clinic at the city college I attended in Washington DC back in the sixties. What a wonderful experience for my classmates and me it was back then. I still remember clearly listening and watching Horace at the piano explaining technique and approaches to jazz, an invaluable experience.

    Now, with permission, may I solicit from the community an opinion of Horace’s solo playing. Specifically the groups thoughts on Horace’s left hand?

    Thank you.

  9. Probably Blowin’ the Blues Away – the one I’d most like to keep if necessary. I think Horace epitomised hard-bop really.A member of a band of percussive pianists that goes from boogie-woogie to Cecil Taylor.

  10. “Soft Winds” from “at Cafe Bohemia Vol.1” especially after listening to Art Blakey’s intro.
    That dream quintet reunited on stage again!

  11. My first contact with Silver’s music was a 1964 recording of argentine pianist Enrique “Mono” Villegas (known in New York in the fifties for his performances at the Cafe Bohemia and his two Columbia records with Milt Hinton and Cozy Cole). There he plays “The Preacher”, which I guess is the only jazz composition by a modern jazz musician that beacame a dixieland standard, thanks to Satchmo!
    Then I heard him on “Whims of Chambers”. I really loved his bluesy playing in the title tune, and of course the entire record too.

    Nowadays I love playing “Sister Sadie” on the organ!

  12. Horace Silver wrote so many great numbers. As I reply, I’m listening to Sayonara Blues from 1962’s The Tokyo Blues set, with Blue Mitchell on trumpet and Junior Cook on tenor sax.

  13. Horace-Scope w/ Nica’s Dream. 6 pieces of Silver. i really dig those early 70s titles too. he could do no wrong and rarely released a bum record. may he rest in peace.

  14. “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.”

    Just beautiful. Coltrane had a similar philosophy.

    Rest in peace Horace Silver.

  15. The title track from Finger Poppin’ – a smoker. Sweet Sweetie Dee from Silver’s Serenade. Filthy McNasty from Doin’ The Thing. and on and on. All his early Blue Notes are a treat.

  16. Horace was incredibly consistent back in his hey day. I also think his piano sounded better than most others on the recordings. I wonder if he worked with Rudy specifically on mic positioning or something that would add luster to his sound.

    Sad to see him go and he will be missed.

    • I’ve always thought the same thing, he sounds clearer and more distinct than other RVG recorded pianists. I am not sure how open RVG would have been to suggestions on mic’ing.

      My favorite Horace Silver album is Cape Verdean Blues; a desert island album.

    • Well as for the trio ballads, it doesn’t sound like Van Gelder compressed the piano as much as he did with the quintet tunes, so the piano breathes more on those. I also think the piano sound improved slightly overall after the move to Englewood Cliffs. But on the quintet tracks I personally find Silver’s sound to be comparable to other pianists Van Gelder recorded…I’ll have to listen more acutely in the future.

  17. Just picked up an import cd on the Solar label entitled Horace Silver Quartet Live in New York 1953 with Lou Donaldson (who was probably the actual leader since Horace had not made a name for himself that early & was a sideman on Lou’s Blue Note album). Club was probably Birdland & date is September 14th. Bassist & drummer fairly unknown. Seven tunes with total time of 78:45. Sound is a tad rough at first but improves from track four on. Well worth picking up for its rarity.

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