Horace Silver: And The Jazz Messengers (1954-5) Blue Note


Selection: Creepin’ In (Silver)


Kenny Dorham (trumpet) Hank Mobley (tenor saxophone) Horace Silver (piano) Doug Watkins (bass) Art Blakey (drums) Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, November 13, 1954 and February 6, 1955


1954Is this a Horace Silver album or a Jazz Messengers album?

Young Mobley! Hesitant, not yet swaggering, but meaty tone, an early flowering of what was to come, fully two years before the mythic Blue Note 1568 Hank Mobley. Kenny Dorham, double or triple-tonguing, “running trumpet” lines weaving through the charts. Blakey ever-present. I think this is a Jazz Messengers album, not a Horace Silver album. Secretly, strictly entre-nous, I think of it as a Hank Mobley album. There , I have said it. When you think of the price premium commanded by BN 1560 and BN 1568, BN 1518 is a hidden gem. Mobley!

Vinyl: BLP 1518, 47W63rd INC and ®, mono, deep groove

Released initially in 1956 on the Lexington label, here a third pressing with 47 West 63rd label with “Inc” and ®,  and deep groove both sides, likely manufacture 1961-2. Hand-etched RVG initials and “9M” indicate original Van Gelder metalwork, so sounds like an original, if not actually the original.

About the cover. Umm, it is one of the worst condition in my Blue Note collection. Dog-eared corners, storage water stains. Seam splits are bearable, sellotape repairs  less so.  However it is an old-stock cover from inventory, as the address is pre-incorporation, Blue Note Records (no INC). This implies there was at least one earlier second pressing, before incorporation, and after Lexington, using this batch of covers.

The other interesting thing is the absence of the large catalogue number top right on the liner notes, simply “HIGH FIDELITY”. Early days in the 1500 series, the later regular format had not yet been established.


Collector’s Corner

One step up from “no cover” is the cover you don’t display in polite company. Sometimes the sad condition of the cover belies the quality of the music within. The cover generated a considerable price discount, especially when you consider the line up.  It is scarcity, and condition quality of scarce vintage that drives price and collector frenzy. Records are rarely  priced on the quality of the music within – that is too much a personal distinction.

I am not knocking it, I have the pleasure of a small number of scarce vintage originals. But I have a more measured view. I’ll sacrifice the cover to get original quality vintage vinyl.

These early 1500 series Blue Notes have enormous price disparity, between “originals” and second or later pressings. This is not an original press, it is a second or later pressing, using original derived stampers. Would I like an original? You bet. Do I lose sleep over the cover or vinyl? Not really. I have a few original Blue Note vinyl housed in Liberty jackets, or Japanese jackets. Would I go for an original vinyl? Probably not. I put this on the turntable and Mobley has me smiling instantly, I marvel at Dorham’s fleet running trumpet lines.  I don’t  believe it would sound much different on a vinyl a few years older, but expensive to find out.

I love this configuration of the Jazz Messengers – Dorham – Mobley – Silver, supported by Watkins and Mr Blakey, on  real Blue Note vinyl , if not a first. I think, sound comes first.

Any one out there has copies of this great record with different vinyl trimmings, tell us about it.


Mattyman’s HS  “autographed” cover:


Genuine Horace Silver signature, as printed on the back cover of The Cape Verdean Blues, below


Problem is, anyone with a copy of The Cape Verdean Blues has a specimen signature to work from, and an incentive, because they know they can make it look like it is genuine. Or it could be genuine.  The dot over the “i” is offset in the same manner in the saluation, and the capital “S” identical in Sincerely and in Silver. Where and when was it signed? It is written with a fountain pen and ink.  In recent decades most people carry a ball point pen not a fountain pen, especially going to a concert. Would you hand Horace a fountain pen at a gig?  The “Sincerely” replicates the capital “S” exactly as in Silver: is it trying too hard?

And (spit) no INC or R labels.


Nice label shots, Mattyman.



27 thoughts on “Horace Silver: And The Jazz Messengers (1954-5) Blue Note

  1. Hey there – can anybody help? Since im no expert.. I have a pressing of the BLP 1518 and it has both: Lexington and on the other side the NYC adress. How comes that? Sure – its not a first press then..

    • Penny-pinching. Standard practice at Plastylite to gradually use up any old stock labels left over from earlier pressing runs. Why not on both sides? Legalese. The NY label will have the INC. and ® registered trademark symbol which I think asserts copyright, so it needs to be on at least one side. (I’m guessing that is the reason.) The most recent label is closest to the probable year of manufacture.

      • Hello, Is it possible for there to be a copy of this that has 767 Lexington Address, RVG/9m etched, no R or INC, and not have the ear? Because if there are W. 63rd copies with the ear, then wouldn’t all 767 Lexington pressings have to have the ear?

  2. Anyone have a French ‘82 copy and how’s it sound? I found sealed one locally that I’m considering which is priced between a 75th Anniversary and a MM33. I can say for sure, it would be an upgrade on my fake stereo blue black. Just curious if I should go for it at the price or save the money for a different pressing.

      • After checking out my 70s issue the other night (fake stereo not as bad as I’d remembered, may have been mono even, but a little worse for wear than I remembered too), I went back and picked it up. I’m sure one could do better, but I’ve no complaints for what I paid. Also, it was interesting to see a French obi. That’s a new one for the collection. Lol.

  3. For all those who – like myself – delight in listening to Silver/Mobley lineups: Let us not forget “Silver’s Blue”, rec. 1956, originally released on Epic. Horace! Mobley! Donald Byrd/Joe Gordon! Doug Watkins! AND Art Taylor/Kenny Clarke! – How d’you like this? OK, it’s not a Blue Note, but who cares?

    • good choice, I love it, but don’t forget the even better (IMHO) Jazz Messengers on Columbia (Philips). When I still do prefer the three Blue Notes, it is for the simple reason that I think K.D. is a more accomplished artist than Donald Byrd.

      • Of course, of course. The Columbia Messengers started me off as an Art Blakey aficionado, I still remember buying that Philips EP with “Infra-Rae” and “Carol’s Interlude” about a hundred years ago…

          • I still treasure those old seven-inchers, in spite of their technical drawbacks (some of them are badly off-centre). But then again, no one would ever claim (contradictions welcome!) they sound “better” than this or better than that. They are what they are – just like their 12 inch cousins.

  4. My copy has DG and 47 West 63rd NYC on both sides, no “inc” no “R” with RVG – catalogue number – 9M. Allegedly signed by HS, but I have no way to check this, though. I’m not sure if Don-Lucky visits LJC – he is the one that knows a thing or two about autographs.

    I have uploaded high resolution photos of my copy, you can view them HERE.

    Note: make sure to click ‘slideshow’ for a lovely full screen experience! 😀

    • Mattyman: congratulations on your lovely 47W63 copy of # 1518. My first Blue Notes were Lex. of course. But when I started to collect seriously the first pressings were with the delicate lettering of the 47W63 NYC type, without R. I wish I had all my Blue Notes this way.

      • Well, Rudolph, your reply makes me proud 😉

        Even though I agree with you on the ‘look and feel’ of a 47W63 NYC label, I wish that it would’ve been a Lex. Still I’m a very happy man with it.

        If only someone could confirm the authenticity of the Horace Silver autograph. Maybe I should leave a link to the photos at Jazzcollector to see if Don-Lucky can tell us some more.

        And LJC, thanks for the compliment, my new tourist cam definitely takes better quality photos – especially when I can show off with my ‘no Inc’ and ‘no R’ copy 🙂

  5. I have what is a second (or perhaps third) pressing – W. 63rd NYC no inc or r (haven’t researched to see if any New York 23 labels are out there). In EX condition, replaced a less-than-perfect original Lexington that, while charming, had seen better days. Plays a treat.

  6. There is one question on which I would like an answer from one of our learned colleagues: what caused the separation of HS and Art Blakey? HS going on with the ex-Messengers group minus Art and plus teenager Louis Hayes and Art with an weak group (Sam Dockery, deBrest, Hardman, McLean), the new Messengers, who never impressed (I have a weak point for Bill H. though, but McLean was out of place).
    I notice the following sequence: a) HS and the Jazz Messengers BLP 1518, musical direction HS; b) the Bohemia Session 1507/8, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, musical director K.D. c). the Columbia session, Art Blakey and the J.M., K.D. exit replaced by newcomer Don Byrd) and, apparently HS musical director. d) thereafter the splash: HS takes the group under his arms and walks out? Or Art kicks HS out? But HS succeeds in keeping the working group. Anyone?

  7. This is a better choice.I have both the two 10″s and three copies of the 12″ in Lexington N condition.I bought the records when I was 20 years old in a record shop in Amsterdam called “Discotone”The owner was the former dutch drummer Henk van Leer.The shop was famous for his original American Import.A lot of my early originals bear the Discotone shop stcker.

  8. I have the two 10″ in Lex outfit and the 12″, also Lex, flat edge, kakubushi (frame) cover. The best Messengers ever, together with the Bohemia set. K.D. is making the difference, a hell of a player compared to Donald Byrd.

  9. I have this on two 10″ers. 5058 in a Toshiba reissue, and a first Lex BN 5062. The sound is excellent on both, with the Lex having a bit more depth. I was lucky with 5062 as it came with “the blue note story” pamphlet inside the jacket.

  10. Ah one of my favorite Silver and jazz albums for that matter. I have this on an original Blue Note w/ no ‘R’ or ‘Inc’ on the label, DG and 9M in the deadwax. I recently acquired a ‘playing copy’ on a BN NY label. For me, there is a difference in sound quality with the slight edge going to the earlier pressing. My original cover isn’t in great shape either with seam splits galore, but to me too it doesn’t make this album less valuable / meaningful.

  11. Thanks for the post! Mine is a ’78 King from my preferred seller in Shibuya..
    One of a handful records for a perfect afternoon. I love it.

  12. I have the same pressing as this one, and it was an upgrade from a 1985 EMI Bovema Holland pressing. I played them back to back and the 47W 63rd pressing sounded about 3 times as loud as the Dutch pressing.

    Lovely record by the way, and indeed, it sounds more like a Messengers record than a Silver record.

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