Selection 1: Cookin’ at the Continental
Selection 2: Swingin’ the Samba
Selection 3: Juicy Lucy
Selection 4: Finger Poppin’
Blue Mitchell (trumpet) Junior Cook (tenor saxophone) Horace Silver (piano) Gene Taylor (bass) Louis Hayes (drums) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, January 31, 1959
Arguably Silver’s finest, classic, uncompromisingly hard bop sortie, I found myself totally unable to decide which track to feature, so I thought, sod it, give ’em four, let them sort it out between themselves.
Personally I have a soft spot for Swinging The Samba, closely followed by Cooking at the Continental, but I noticed that LJC posters had different ideas, with nominations for other tracks as favourites. Hang the storage limits, give them more, a tribute to Horace: seize the moment, it won’t happen to pass again.
In my opinion, none of the tunes on Finger Poppin’ are especially memorable, but it is more than a simple blowing session. The heads set the mood and tempo, which is where the collaborative power of the Silver Quintet scores so high: everyone knows what is coming, has plenty of space, and uses it well. It is what happened when Blue Note famously funded rehearsal time, where other labels did not: the final product is a more polished performance.
Horace once described his approach to music as “meaningful simplicity”, an insight to be savoured. In a milieu that elevated “complexity” that is not always meaningful, it is a distinction worth retaining.
Vinyl: BN 4008 W63rd labels, (+INC + R) RVG stamp, DG, ears.
Just for a change, this Blue Note has the same W63rd labels on each side, but it’s +INC and +R both sides, so question over early v.s. later pressing status. Regular follower will understand my indifference – it’s the van Gelder metalwork provenance that counts to the audiophile. There will be no wailing and gnashing of teeth here between 1st or 2nd press.
When I started out collecting jazz around five or so years ago, these Horace records simply turned up once in a while, and you seized the moment. I still see them turning up once in a while, but not as often. I fear these will not be long for this earth. But they are at the more affordable end, and they repay the investment.