Horace Silver - Paris Blues - Pablo PACD 5316
Horace Silver is hard bop. With the exception of monster drummer Art Blakey, no musician is more closely associated with the earthy, blues-driven, East Coast-based jazz that emerged in the mid-1950s as a vibrant alternative to the chilled-out "cool school." The hard bop movement revived the brashness of bebop with an infusion of soul and a double dose of funk. Suddenly jazz was not so polite, not so intellectual anymore. But it was a lot more fun. And Horace Silver was present at the creation.
In his wonderfully bizarre, eccentrically punctuated autobiography, I, Paid My Dues, jazz singer-gadfly Babs Gonzales recalled how he "ran into a genius named Horace Silver" during a gig in Stamford, Connecticut, sometime in the late 1940s. "He walked up to me and said 'Babs, I play piano. May I sit in?' I said 'sure, c'mon whale [sic] some.' He not only astounded us but broke up the audience too. Later on he asked 'Big Nick' [Nicholas] if he could borrow his tenor. He also blew the keys off the tenor. I just said, 'Man, you better come to New York.'" Silver was not even twenty-one years old at the time.
And he did come to New York in 1950, as a member of Stan Getz's combo. A series of trio sessions in 1952 and 1953 helped establish Silver's reputation as an original and hugely talented improvisor and composer. Those dates also solidified a musical partnership with Art Blakey, and in 1955 they founded the original Jazz Messengers, Blakey serving as de facto leader and spokesman, Silver as musical director. By 1956 these two hard bop trailblazers decided to cut separate, but parallel, paths. For the rest of the decade, and well beyond, Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers and the Horace Silver Quintet reigned as the leading purveyors of hard bop.
In its early years, Silver's group was populated by such masters of the genre as trumpeters Donald Byrd and Art Farmer, tenor saxophonists Hank Mobley and Clifford Jordan, bassists Doug Watkins and Teddy Kotick, and drummer Louis Hayes. Then, in 1958 Silver began assembling what is, arguably, his finest quintet ever, when tenor saxophonist Junior Cook, trumpeter Blue Mitchell, and bassist Gene Taylor all joined the group in that single, landmark year. With just one change - drummer Roy Brooks taking over for Hayes in 1959 - the quintet's personnel remained stable for some six years and, during that time, produced six classic Blue Note LPs and more than half of a seventh.
And that brings us to these - until now - unreleased recordings, captured on tape by famed producer Norman Granz during an October 1962 performance at Paris' Olympia Theater. The repertoire that night consisted of more or less recently recorded Silver compositions, and the players' familiarity with the tunes, and each other, is evident. But there are no signs of boredom or complacency here. Silver and men are fully engaged with the material and each other, and clearly are inspired by the appreciative French audience.
Granz introduces Silver en français, who, after his own gracious remarks, leads the quintet into Where You At?, first heard on the 1960 Horace-scope album (although this version is nearly twice as long). The theme is packed with Silver's compositional trademarks - shifting rhythms, stop-time unison horn passages, winding and intricate phrases. Driven by Roy Brooks' propulsive drumming, Cook and Mitchell contribute idiomatic solos, and then Silver takes center stage. Although possessed of fine piano technique, Silver is not, by nature, a dazzling keyboardist in the manner of, say, a Bud Powell or an Oscar Peterson. Rather, he displays, here and throughout, his composer's gift for spinning apparently offhand phrases and licks into coherent, spontaneous melodies.
The brand new Tokyo Blues, a simple, exotic theme, is the title tune of an album recorded by the quintet less than three months prior to this performance. Don't miss Gene Taylor's rock solid, hypnotic, yet swinging, bass line behind the solos, and pay particular attention to that now overlooked master hard bopper, Richard "Blue" Mitchell (1930-1979). Not as sunny as Clifford Brown, nor as dark as Lee Morgan, Mitchell took the best traits of his influences and amalgamated them into a distinct trumpet persona. Silver's largely right-handed solo is a master class in subtlety, pacing, and thematic development.
An all-time Silver favorite, Filthy McNasty simply reeks of the blues - even the title is funky. And it got even funkier when Eddie Jefferson, on his 1968 Body and Soul album (OJCD 396-2), sang about a cat who is badder than Leroy Brown and makes Slim Shady look like a lightweight: "He hangs out in bars, he's got a few scars, stays higher than Mars, and makes love in cars …" There's nothing exotic or subtle here, just some great blowing from Mitchell, Cook, and Silver on a great blowing tune. The horns jump back in for the tightly played shout chorus - to quote Jefferson again: "Why all the crazy chicks love McNasty, I never, ever could understand …" - and then groove their way once again through that unforgettable head.
Instead of the expected twelve-bar form, Sayonara Blues, is really a vehicle for extended modal improvisation over a two-chord vamp. This is a good time to point out the underrated brilliance of Herman "Junior" Cook (1934-1992), a jazz stalwart if there ever was one. During the late 1980s and early '90s Cook served as a sort of elder statesman and guiding light to a new generation of aspiring New York City jazz players who used to jam with him at a small bar called Augie's on Manhattan's Upper West Side. His solo here shows why they all respected and admired him so greatly.
Despite the previous tune's title, it really was not sayonara (or, in this case, au revoir), because Silver's quintet had one more number - one more burnin' blues - in store, Doin' the Thing, the title track of their 1961 Village Gate recording. Cook and Mitchell just eat up this brisk tempo, Silver builds a solo out of funky riffs, and, after the horns return for a round of four-bar trades, Brooks does his thing, drawing from a rich palette of dynamics and effects.
This nonpareil edition of the Horace Silver Quintet remained together until 1964, when Mitchell left to start his own quintet, taking Cook as his tenor man - they kept up their remarkable teamwork for another five years - and Taylor as his bassist. Undaunted, Silver reformed a completely new and completely superb band. In the ensuing years his quintets featured such then and future jazz giants as trumpeters Carmell Jones, Woody Shaw, Randy Brecker, Cecil Bridgewater, and Tom Harrell; saxophonists Joe Henderson, Benny Maupin, Michael Brecker, and Harold Vick; bassists Larry Ridley and Bob Cranshaw; and drummers Billy Cobham, Mickey Roker, and Al Foster.
And today, forty years after this Paris concert, Horace Silver is the "Hard Bop Grandpop," still, as the title of one of his best albums put it, "blowin' the blues away."
|Complete CD Liner Notes Credits|
|Eric Alexander||Full Range||Criss Cross Jazz|
|Helio Alves||Portrait In Black and White||Reservoir Music|
|Anush Apoyan||A Dedication to Horace Silver||Black & Blue|
|Robert Bachner & Helmar Hill||Ein feiner Zug||ATS|
|Thomas Barber's Janus Bloc||Snow Road||D Clef|
|Carl Bartlett, Jr.||Hopeful|
|Count Basie||Chairman of the Board||Roulette Jazz|
|Roni Ben-Hur||Signature||Reservoir Music|
|Walter Blanding||The Olive Tree||Criss Cross Jazz|
|Don Braden||After Dark||Criss Cross Jazz|
|Jane Bunnett||Cuban Odyssey||EMI Music Canada|
|Sharel Cassity||Relentless||Jazz Legacy Productions|
|Al Clausen||Swing Can Really Hang You Up the Most||Sunny NoDak|
|Steve Davis||Vibe Up!||Criss Cross Jazz|
|Dena DeRose||Introducing Dena DeRose||Sharp Nine|
|Dena DeRose||United||High Note|
|Orrin Evans||Grown Folk Bizness||Criss Cross Jazz|
|John Fedchock New York Big Band||No Nonsense||Reservoir Music|
|John Fedchock New York Big Band||Up & Running||Reservoir Music|
|Carl Fontana||The Fifties||Uptown|
|Sayuri Goto||Flashback||Fever Pitch|
|Sayuri Goto||Prayer||Fever Pitch|
|Jimmy Greene||Introducing Jimmy Greene||Criss Cross Jazz|
|Coleman Hawkins||The Best of Coleman Hawkins [Prestige Profiles: Coleman Hawkins]||Prestige|
|David Hazeltine||A World for Her||Criss Cross Jazz|
|Conrad Herwig||Heart of Darkness||Criss Cross Jazz|
|Jane Jarvis||Sagmo's Song||Faith|
|Jane Jarvis & Benny Powell||Two of a Kind||Faith|
|Ingrid Jensen||Here on Earth||Enja|
|Hank Jones||Live at Fat Tuesday`s||Reservoir Music|
|Philly Joe Jones Dameronia||Look, Stop and Listen Featuring Johnny Griffin||Uptown|
|David Kikoski||Almost Twilight||Criss Cross Jazz|
|Yuko Kimora||A Beautiful Friendship|
|Ryan Kisor||The Dream||Criss Cross Jazz|
|Marilyn Lerner||Birds Are Returning||Jazz Focus|
|Achilles Liarmakopolous||Trombone Atrivedo ||Opening Day|
|Gene Ludwig||The Groove ORGANization||Blues Leaf|
|Joe Magnarelli||Mr. Mags||Criss Cross Jazz|
|Virgina Mayhew||Nini Green||Chiaroscuro|
|Virginia Mayhew||No Walls||Foxhaven|
|Virginia Mayhew||Sandan Shuffle||Renma|
|Virginia Mayhew||A Simple Thank You||Renma|
|Virginia Mayhew|| Mary Lou Williams: The Next 100 Years||Renma|
|Dave Panichi||Blues for McCoy||Spirit Song|
|Roberta Piket||Solo||Thirteenth Note|
|Roberta Piket||One for Marian||Thirteenth Note|
|Roberta Piket||West Coast Trio||Thirteenth Note|
|Valery Ponomarev||Beyond the Obvious||Reservoir Music|
|Valery Ponomarev||The Messenger||Reservoir Music|
|Valery Ponomarev||Our Father Who Art Blakey||Zoho|
|Benny Powell||Coast 2 Coast||Faith|
|Benny Powell||The Gift of Love||Faith|
|Melvin Rhyne||Kojo||Criss Cross Jazz|
|Claudio Roditi||Double Standards||Reservoir Music|
|Claudio Roditi||Free Wheelin'||Reservoir Music|
|Adonis Rose||The Unity||Criss Cross Jazz|
|Jim Rotundi||Reverence||Criss Cross Jazz|
|Harvie S & Sheryl Bailey||Plucky Strum||Whaling City Sound|
|Horace Silver||Paris Blues||Pablo|
|Gary Smulyan||High Noon: The Jazz Soul of Frankie Laine||Reservoir Music|
|Doug Talley||Night and Day||Serpentine|
|Uptown Five||Uptown Swing||Harlem|
|Various Artists: Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins & John Coltrane||The Prestige Legacy, Volume 1: The High Priests||Prestige|
|Ceder Walton, Ron Carter & Billy Higgins: Sweet Basil Trio||St. Thomas||Evidence Music|
|Walt Weiskopf||Anytown||Criss Cross Jazz|
|Steve Weist||Out of the New||Arabesque|
|Deborah Weisz||Breaking Up, Breaking Out||Vah Wa|
|Rich Willey||Gone with the Piggies||Consolidated Artists Productions|