Horace Silver: Horace-scope (1960) Blue Note



Selection: Nica’s Dream


Blue Mitchell (trumpet) Junior Cook (tenor saxophone) Horace Silver (piano) Gene Taylor (bass) Roy Brooks (drums) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, July 8 – 9, 1960.


The solid Silver Quintet, with Blue Mitchell and Junior Cook. Jazz critic Marc Myers names “Horace-scope” as his personal favourite, and offers some insight into the background of the recording date:

“Horace-Scope didn’t come easy. The date was recorded over  two days … and all of the tracks required double-digit takes. And no wonder. The melodies and executions are so tightly choreographed that it’s remarkable that perfection was achieved on any of the takes. For instance, upward of 34 takes were required for Yeah and 38 attempts for Me and My Baby.”

My personal selection, Nica’s Dream, is take 23. A pretty straightforward blowing session in comparison, then. Good that Alfred Lion funded rehearsal time. For the record, the take count for Horace-scope.

tk.10 Where You At
tk.14 Strollin’
tk.22 Without You
tk.23 Nica’s Dream
tk.31 Horace-Scope
tk.34 Yeah!
tk.38 Me And My Baby

This LJC Horace retrospective has reminded me that Silver was not so much a pianist as a music aggregator, as in the finishing- school manner of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. You don’t play an Art Blakey album just to listen to some drumming, nor a Horace to listen to some piano playing, though you get both. Silver scores for a quintet and you get the musical aggregate. Sometimes it is Art Farmer, Blue Mitchell, Carmel Jones or Woody Shaw on trumpet; Hank Mobley, Junior Cook or Joe Henderson on tenor. Each brings their own distinctive contribution to the musical picnic, the common theme being Silver’s compositions on which to spread out.

Though Horace has gone, his music is alive and well, and any day is a good day for a picnic. It goes down well anywhere with a  glass of chilled Prosecco, and without having to worry about the hype of what’s new! and latest! It is timeless, so can be played at any time.

Vinyl: BN 4042

47W63rd labels with INC & R, DG, RVG stamp and ears. At this time the INC and R are expected, so it may be a 1st press, but hubris precedes nemesis, so I will cautiously reserve my position. The matrix each side is A-1 and B-1 second master.  I used to fret over this but I think it just means van Gelder wasn’t happy with his first shot and thought he could improve on it, so it’s a good thing. Perhaps he saw all the takes required, and got into the spirit of things.



Collector’s Corner

Just a few more to go Horace in this retrospective. It’s been a journey of re-discovery so quite rewarding, and it also makes better use of what is already on the shelves, given zero scores on Ebay for some time now.

There is  a collector’s tipping point, a place you reach where most of the records that turn up on offer you either already have, or don’t want, and the few remaining on your list you rarely if ever see and are priced out of reach when you do.

Whilst you can go on indefinitely upgrading to a better copy, the more pertinent question is: how well do you really know what you already have? I know there are a lot of records I haven’t got round to playing very much, and if you don’t play them, what’s the point of having them? Buy less and play more.




9 thoughts on “Horace Silver: Horace-scope (1960) Blue Note

  1. LJC, I am listening to this one right now as I scored an original mono today at my local record store, and for a reasonable price 🙂 🙂 🙂
    It appears to be the exact same as yours, 63rd st labels, ear, RVG, DG. Also it has a laminated cover . The matrix numbers are the same as well, A-1, B-1. So like your copy I believe it to be a first pressing. The only thing missing is the original inner but I can live with that 🙂

    • Though the Horace section on my shelf doesn’t get as much play as it should nowadays, Horace-Scope is a humdinger album. Junior Cook is outstanding, and Van Gelder was having a very good day. This is one album that stands out from the Horace legacy, though Song for My Father understandingly seems to rule the roost. Great find, enjoy, much.

      (Must keep it brief, England seems to be doing well against Croatia at this moment)

  2. Hi. I believe Mr. Myers is wrong in asserting there were 38 takes for Me And My Baby. What that actually means is that the master take was take 38 of the entire session. To quote Michael Cuscuna from the preface of The Blue Note Discography (pg vii) “Blue Note used a take numbering system made of a numerical sequence for all takes recorded in one session.” Even though the recording took two days, the take numbers were continued from one day to the next. The last take on day one was the master of Without You (tk22), and the first take of day two was the master of Nica’s Dream (tk 23) The data for the session is on page 99.

  3. I’ve decided this album is also one of my favorite Silver albums. I got to thinking “wouldn’t it be interesting if Horace recorded with Wes???” Well I’m not sure they ever did though they did play together on at least one occasion. Then I found this nice version of “Nica’s Dream” featuring Wes Montgomery:

  4. Important and salient point in the art of collecting LJC. I have a reissued 200 gram mono copy of BN-4042, after living with only the CD for years. The CD was cheap and intended to tide me over until I found that affordable mono original, graded at least VG+ copy on EBay. Well, that never happened and I grew tied of waiting to add an original issued vinyl copy to my collection and just settled for my 200 gram reissue. At $30, not a bad compromise. Albeit the sound quality is clean and pleasent, but at the same time more CD like. It does not come close to the sound quality of an original deep groove mono. Oh well, compromise is the best option sometime.

    Oh, like your review of The Cape Verdean Blues as well. I first purchased a xrcd24-bit CD version of the recording and afterward a nice stereo VG++ Liberty vinyl copy at a reasonable price. As much as I would love to own a mono original, I don’t have the patience to pursue one. So I will compromise and enjoy what I have.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s