Horace Silver: The Tokyo Blues (1962) Blue Note



Selection: Sayonara Blues


Blue Mitchell (trumpet) Junior Cook (tenor saxophone) Horace Silver (piano) Gene Taylor (bass) John Harris Jr. (drums) Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, July 13-14, 1962


This unforgivably was left off my Horace Silver Retrospective. Its one of my favourite Horaces but I had only a particularly scuffed and noisy stereo copy, on the borderline of being acceptable, but on the wrong side of the border. Then last week I came across this copy, mono and near mint. So now no excuse.

This was an exceptionally swinging session, with Horace’s  earthy bluesy smiling piano in abundance, Cook once again cast as Hank Mobley’s double, and there is not a bad track among them. I chose a personal favourite, Sayonara Blues, which stretches out to a leisurely thirteen minutes of great Silver swing.

Vinyl: BN 4110 NY/Liberty – mono – a respectable 130 gram vinyl

No ear, but a silky smooth pressing by Liberty on New York labels and VAN GELDER mastering  stamp. The back cover betrays its Liberty manufacture – shrunken catalogue number and no catalogue address – and the inclusion of a “27 Years of” Blue Note inner bag points to the year of Liberty transition, 1966. The first-wave Liberty/NY mono’s, of which I have around ten, are all very good, and almost always in better condition than their “original” predecessors, so they deserve  special place with collectors.

The laminate quality of the cover is another additional bonus. I don’t recall seeing a Liberty manufactured cover of such high standard before.

Horace Silver laminated cover Tokyo Blues

Were Blue Note covers manufactured and stored while liner notes that bore addresses added later? May be there is another untold story of  cover printing,  It’s a gap in our knowledge, what printers did, the vintage technology of lamination, why they can’t make anything like that today? Plenty of Youtubes explain vinyl-pressing, but vintage LP cover lamination, nothing. What exactly does that enigmatic number at the bottom right corner of Columbia liner notes actually mean?  What does WB know?

Despite posing with two geisha girls, the album was recorded at Englewood Cliffs, and thankfully eschews any cheesy oriental references, like playing chopsticks. The Tokyo Blues is thoroughly American, which is exactly what jazz fans in Tokyo would want.




Collectors Corner

I’ve long had an original stereo Blue Note, which had not been cared for by a previous owner.  The chance to upgrade to a NY/Liberty mono was too good to pass on. (Just one other Horace still lurking in the wings for a future post, for completeness)

Another one of my Horace albums is, like Mattyman’s, blessed with a “fake” autograph, modelled on the one printed in the liner notes of Tokyo Blues. Why did people fake autographs? Probably for similar reasons that compels people to pose for a photograph in front of luxury sports cars that obviously aren’t theirs. I recall in the ’60s, people called “fans” were often autograph hunters, who gathered a lot of kudos with their collection of autographs of stars. What groupies collected will pass without mention. Plaster of Paris? An autograph at least you can pass down to your children.

An real autograph is a brief personal encounter with fame. I managed to collect only one in my life, that of blues giant Howling Wolf back in 1970,   It is real. I was there. And I’m glad to still have it along with the memories.



Another “bogus” Silver signature?


This Horace-forger also signed his own name on my Japanese Toshiba copy : “Hugh Albert”. Stand up, Hugh! It’s your handiwork, isn’t it?

Puts me in mind of those inept bank robbers much beloved of “America’s Stupidest Criminals” TV programmes, who rob a bank wearing a full-face motorcycle helmet to conceal their identity, forgetting their full name is stencilled on the back of the helmet, as captured on CCTV.

Man walks into a bank, throws bag on cashiers desk, calls out ” OK, nobody move, this is a stick-up, …umm hold hands, this is a cock-up. I forgot the gun


12 thoughts on “Horace Silver: The Tokyo Blues (1962) Blue Note

  1. as i recall the further explorations copy you have has cut out bottom right hand corner?(inner sleeve i may have signed too normally with a thin black felt)
    was bought from tower records back in the 90,s when a flood of toshiba blue notes vanguard (dave burns/bill english) savoy and prestige etc were bound for the states but for a little embargo was going on at the time between japan and usa so goode olde blighty collectors were the most humble recipients!
    cost of each?
    £3.49! do you recall LJC?
    ask around – i kow what i,am talking about!
    Hugh Albert

  2. Phew….. some LP this! I think it has a definite nod towards oriental styling’s but swings in that “Silver” way. Funnily enough I first heard Sayonara Blues at a trendy Soul Weekender jazz room at least 20 years ago where the legendry Dj Bob Jones spun it. He played it and followed it up by Baby Face Willet’s “Face to Face” and the place erupted. I then tracked down a half decent reasonable priced USA Van Gelder stamped copy. It always sounds great through my missions, well happy with it!

    • i think a little wet fish applied to all four cheeks is warranted! back in the day before i knew better i used to sign my name on lps(inner sleeves too!), mark the tracks with asterisks particulary if sold to djs who could not stomach actually listening to the lps
      “whats the track?” was quite often the remark
      the nitty gritty:
      the signature is indeed genuine(on the silver lp) because i had the opportunity to see horace ward martin tavares! at ronnie scotts many years ago where andy bey was on vocals that night
      i quite often would get my idols to sign ie:
      joe henderson the kicker/ tetragon
      art blakey lets make it
      cedar walton and billy higgins on eddie harris,s the in sound
      jackie mclean on bluesnick with biro! bluesnik was actually recorded the day i was born 8 jan 1961! therefore i hung on to it be it the only blue label blue note i own
      sorry to spoil your dectective work !
      Hugh Albert

      • I’ve just got a copy of Cape Verdean Blues with the same HS autograph in blue ink, and clearly the same Hugh written top right. Now I see that Hugh has made himself known, what am I to think?

  3. i am increasingly starting to love horace. my debacle with the stylings of silver left me with not one but TWO great albums, and i recently got a great mint original “finger poppin'”. there may be more to come.

    • Thanks for the comment GtF,

      I’ll go further. I don’t think I understood the importance of the “accompanying piano”. What an admission! Some of these accompanists are sly and subversive. They don’t follow, they lead.

      Taking stock, a lot of my Horace albums were sitting on the shelf gathering mildew. Now they have a new lease of life and a new sense of purpose. I go listen to Hancock with renewed admiration. You get star-struck with the front-line, but catch the guy at the back driving them on.

      I like the sound of changing opinions.

  4. In spite of having the word “blues” in its title, “Sayonara Blues” is a 16-bar tune with very sparse chord changes. And most remarkable of all: Although the solos don’t make use even of this simple pattern but are built along a very rudimentary 2-bar vamp, the music never gets boring! Silver’s piano solo especially is one of my favourites, with its far-out right hand lines and unexpected but strangely appropriate quotations (“Oh Susanna”). And it’s all funky and swings like hell. Great, great music.

  5. Must score this record still! A friend have me a few evil silver discs of some live Silver material from various concerts. One of them featured some inspired playing and a few numbers off the Tokyo Blues album. I believe it was live in Germany from ’62. I really need to find more live performances of Silver’s group from that time period…

    As for the remaining Silver LP, you know I’d hope it could be “Further Explorations” just to get your take on that record!

  6. We should compare the autographs of our Horace records and see to what extent they were faked or not 🙂 For those who missed it: a close up of the autograph can be found in LJC’s post of Silver’s BLP1518, posted below 😉

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