HORACE SILVER RETROSPECTIVE No 8: The Stylings of Silver
Selection 2: No Smokin’
Art Farmer (trumpet) Hank Mobley (tenor saxophone) Horace Silver (piano) Teddy Kotick (bass) Louis Hayes (drums) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, May 8, 1957
Art Farmer! Hank Mobley!! Who would have credited such a combination? Lyrical trumpet and malted tenor.Typically Horace, this is a perfectly balanced set of varied moods and tempo’s, graced with exquisite solo and collaborative performances. Though his mid ’60s work earned Horace the most acclaim, it’s his earlier work from the golden age of bop that is the most substantial. It’s Mobley. It’s Blue Note 1500 series. It’s cordon blue bop, inventive, lyrical, energetic, and substantial.
AllMusic fall back on the “enjoyable but not essential” line.
“All of Silver’s Blue Note quintet recordings are consistently superb and swinging and, although not essential, this is a very enjoyable set”.
Enjoyable but not essential, meh. Stylings of Silver may or may not be HS’s “best” album, but it is a better album than many others around. Following the siren-call of peak experience – being the first best fastest longest hottest coldest tallest most whatever, merely being good can relegate something to the sidelines. It may or may not be Silver’s best album, but the best is the enemy of the good, the merely enjoyable can become overlooked.
Sonny Rollins may be a more accomplished tenor player than any other, but that doesn’t mean you should listen only to Rollins. Listening to music requires a varied diet of contrasting material. Coltrane is not better than Mingus, both are enjoyable, and exciting. What matters is whether music is enjoyable, and the only way to know that is to sit and listen. If it isn’t doing it for you, take it off the turntable and come back to it another time. Sometimes your enjoyment is influenced by what else you have been listening to at the time. There will be other times. I had forgotten how good this is.
Vinyl: BN 1562 on mixed 47W63rd and NY labels;
RVG stamp and 9M etched, original stampers but pressed somewhere around 1962, laminated heavy card cover, possibly an original cover from stock. Many copies of these Horace Silver albums turn up with mixed labels, suggesting Horace albums sold well and were subject to further pressings.
As the Tour de France races through London, this retrospective Tour de Horace is reaching its final stages, just a couple more laps. It has sparked off some interesting and unexpected new lines of enquiry.
It also marks my 600th post, which has taken LJC now to over 900,000 page views, and I hope, will reach over one million somewhere in September. Haven’t you guys anything better to do? I certainly don’t.
As an aside, LJC poster Rodrigo asks a pertinent question: whatever happened to the piano in Hackensack? Did it move to Englwood Cliffs? Where is it now? Anybody know anything?