HORACE SILVER RETROSPECTIVE No.7: Horace-Scope
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.22 Without You
tk.23 Nica’s Dream
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.
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.