Horace Silver: Blowin’ The Blues Away (1959) Blue Note



Selection: Break City


Blue Mitchell (trumpet) Junior Cook (tenor saxophone) Horace Silver (piano) Gene Taylor (bass) Louis Hayes (drums) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, August 29, 1959


There are no bad tracks on this album, they are all superlative, and so there is a high probability that I have chosen the “wrong” one and left out your  favourite. However it’s my party.There are times you want jazz hot, other times you want it cool. Playing this album through, I settled on hot: the survival of the fastest.

All Music declare: 

“the up-tempo tunes (“Break City”) are among the hardest-swinging Silver had ever cut…. Through it all, Silver remains continually conscious of the groove, playing off the basic rhythms to create funky new time patterns. The typical high-impact economy of his and the rest of the band’s statements is at its uppermost level, and everyone swings with exuberant commitment. In short, Blowin’ the Blues Away is one of Silver’s finest albums, and it’s virtually impossibleto dislike”

That’s what I thought too. As you listen through Break City you become aware this is no ordinary passive “comping” from Horace, in the background. He is pushing the hard bop envelope, a rich rhythmic canvas with pace and drive, occasionally breaking through to the fore with melodic incursions, not competing with the soloist but supportively driving them harder. There is an unusual synergy from having the leader as the accompanist. When he gets to his own solo, he then gets to drive himself. Remarkable stuff.

Vinyl: Blue Note BN 4017

Usual Blue Note practice of using up old stock labels – a mixed pair, 47 West 63rd and NY, but RVG mono, ears, and a great sound. I have seen identical label combinations on other copies of this record.



Collector’s Corner: Jumping off point: – Junior Cook


Junior Cook keeps growing in my estimation, with his  raw loose tone and variety of speeds, satisfying structure and flourishes, and a degree of unpredictability, the embodiment of a good bop tenor soloist in the school of Hank Mobley and Tina Brooks. I wondered why I had not got any Junior Cook albums (as leader)?

Delving a little deeper threw some light on the absence. From the liner notes to Cook’s 1961 Jazzland album Junior’s Cookin’  :

“It has become common practice for a sideman to record as a leader after having been with a group for a short time. There have been cases where a sideman did more albums than his regular group leader in the course of a year. Junior Cook’s pattern has been the complete opposite of this. Although he has been the featured tenorman with the Horace Silver Quintet since 1958…Cook had never made a date of his own until 1961.”

Overlooked by the big jazz labels, perhaps feeling they have “enough tenors”,  Cook’s first leader record  appear on Jazzland, and later, labels like Catalyst, Muse, and SteepleChase, which may explain my low awareness, not titles you see every day  Inevitably with a name like Cook, many of his  titles revolve around play on words with a cooking theme. Otherwise he is to be found with Blue Mitchell’s Quintet (1964-69), Louis Hayes (1975-1976), Bill Hardman (1979-1989). I must check out some of these later works, whose labels have good vinyl credentials.


Generally the covers make you ask Where is Reid Miles when you need him?  though I guess many of these are ’70s and ’80s covers and that is how they made them at that time. Aside from the rather stylish Jazzland,  I like the Steeplechase cover, Cook with the Joe Zawinul ethno-headwear and the  Dr Dre Beats, worthy of an Archie Shepp cover.

logo-JAP[1]Speaking of Shepp, in a shameless segue, Shepp is still standing and featuring in the Ile de Porquerolles Jazz Festival  in two weeks time, along with Mehliana – Brad Medhau and Mark Guiliana.  JAP must be one of the few true-to jazz. Others on the French Riviera gearing up for Jazz in July: The Nice Jazz Festival this year stars those well-known bebop artists, Deep Purple, along with Dr John and The Gypsy Kings. The much-revered Jazz a Juan, scene of Miles Davis and Charles Mingus, this year  welcomes The Family Stone, Mr Smooth Jazz George Benson, fusioneers Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke, and Stevie Wonder (and lots of girly singers). Seems every one likes to keep the historical association with “Jazz”, just not the actual music.

Personally I shall be staying home again, spinning a few discs with my own summer festival, Jazz-a-LJC. The living room stage will be crowded with artists long gone but who continue to perform, magically reanimated through the power of vinyl. Who knows, I might even take some time out to spin some of my original ’60s Deep Purple.


15 thoughts on “Horace Silver: Blowin’ The Blues Away (1959) Blue Note

  1. About my BLP-4017: DG and 47 West 63rd NYC on both sides, with “inc” and “R” with the “ear”, RVG and cat.nr. hand etched in the dead wax. Address on back cover is 43West 61st St., New York 23.

    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! 😀

  2. Good Gracious (tm Lou Donaldson) LJC, you are flying through Horace Silver’s legacy! We can’t keep up. Your turntable seems to be spinning as fast and relentlessly as the wheels of Jack Kerouac’s car.
    Slightly off topic- but the Archie Shepp performance on 12 July that you note would cause me to part with my hard earned cash, were it within reasonable distance of home

  3. Used to tune in to Voice of America, broadcast from Tangiers, in the fifties on an old HMV Radiogram. The first tune out of the speaker was Land’s End by Horace Silver with Harold Land and Clifford Brown. It was a discovery that changed my life.

    • Nice to think of those VOA days, John. That was a bit of hi-fi jazz listening, I daresay…
      But are you sure Land’s End was written by Horace Silver? The sleeve notes say “Harold Land”.

        • I’m just trying to prove myself wrong… Horace playing “Land’s End” with Harold & Clifford would have been such a nice thought, but I am pretty sure the piano player you heard on VOA back then was Richie Powell – barely audible on shortwave perhaps. Moreover, Harold Land’s “Land’s End” undoubtedly shows some Horace Silver influence, which might have led you to think it was Horace you were listening to.

          • The reception did fade in and out occasionally but I’m pretty sure it was Horace that night. I’d heard of VOA, tuned in and the very first thing I heard was Land’s End so the memory was implanted very deeply. I couldn’t believe my luck in that jazz-starved era. Richie Powell is the obvious choice as you say and appears on all versions listed.

            • I have loss of short term memory between going out the shops and remembering what I am shopping for, never mind fifty years ago. I remember listening to Radio Free Europe back in those ’50s radio days, then Radio Caroline and Radio Luxembourg. Approximation is good enough for me.

              • Thanks for that and I hope younger ‘viewers’ will forgive us. I used to look forward all week to ‘Take the A Train’ and Connover’s voice. My parents were very understanding as I crouched in the corner with my ear close to the huge speaker so they could hear the black and white TV

  4. Great record and wonderfull cover, which initiated me to start painting jazz in watercolors.
    As you mentionned jazzfestivals in the South of France, please do not forget our great Jazz à Junas Festival in a roman stone quarry where this year we invite great jazz musicians from the nordic countries. interested? go to: http://jazzajunas.fr/festival.php
    On top and suprisingly linked to the Horace Silver artistic album cover: I am invited to put 30 jazz watercolours during the festival on the topic: Strings and Percussions. in the temple of Junas, last year decorated by moderns coloured glass made by the great drummer Daniel Humair.

    Of course, you are all most welcome !

  5. Always a puzzle isn’t it? For my copy features W. 63rd labels on both sides, yet does NOT have the ear and, to mix it up even further, the matrix on side 1 is VAN GELDER, but on side 2 is RVG. It came in a 1966 “27 Years” inner, so always assumed it was a 66 Liberty and am very happy with it, but it’s odd that your copy has a New York USA label on one side, but was obviously pressed earlier.

  6. yet another HS! LJC is on the fast track. This was my second HS album, the first being “6 pièces of Silver”. Junior Cook is more than an able craftsman. He is in the same league as Clifford Jordan at the beginning of his career. Thank you to feature “Break City”.

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