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."

Count Basie
Chairman of the Board

Jane Bunnett
Cuban Odyssey

Alf Clausen Jazz Orchestra
Swing Can Really Hang You Up the Most

Carl Fontana
The Fifties

Coleman Hawkins
The Best of Coleman Hawkins

Philly Joe Jones Dameronia
Look, Stop and Listen
Featuring Johnny Griffin

Wes Montgomery

Claudio Roditi
Free Wheelin': The Music of Lee Morgan

Horace Silver
Paris Blues

Gary Smulyan
High Noon: The Jazz Soul of Frankie Laine

Various Artists
The Prestige Legacy, Volume 1: The High Priests

Steve Weist
Out of the New

Complete CD Liner Notes Credits
ArtistCD TitleLabel
Eric AlexanderFull RangeCriss Cross Jazz
Helio AlvesPortrait In Black and WhiteReservoir Music
Anush ApoyanA Dedication to Horace SilverBlack & Blue
Robert Bachner & Helmar HillEin feiner ZugATS
Thomas Barber's Janus BlocSnow RoadD Clef
Carl Bartlett, Jr.Hopeful
Count BasieChairman of the BoardRoulette Jazz
Roni Ben-HurSignatureReservoir Music
Walter BlandingThe Olive TreeCriss Cross Jazz
Don BradenAfter DarkCriss Cross Jazz
Jane BunnettCuban OdysseyEMI Music Canada
Sharel CassityRelentlessJazz Legacy Productions
Al ClausenSwing Can Really Hang You Up the MostSunny NoDak
Steve DavisVibe Up!Criss Cross Jazz
Dena DeRoseIntroducing Dena DeRoseSharp Nine
Dena DeRoseUnitedHigh Note
Orrin EvansGrown Folk BiznessCriss Cross Jazz
John Fedchock New York Big BandNo NonsenseReservoir Music
John Fedchock New York Big BandUp & RunningReservoir Music
Carl FontanaThe FiftiesUptown
Sayuri GotoFlashbackFever Pitch
Sayuri GotoPrayerFever Pitch
Jimmy GreeneIntroducing Jimmy GreeneCriss Cross Jazz
Coleman HawkinsThe Best of Coleman Hawkins [Prestige Profiles: Coleman Hawkins]Prestige
David HazeltineA World for HerCriss Cross Jazz
Conrad HerwigHeart of DarknessCriss Cross Jazz
Jane JarvisSagmo's SongFaith
Jane Jarvis & Benny PowellTwo of a KindFaith
Ingrid JensenHere on EarthEnja
Philly Joe Jones DameroniaLook, Stop and Listen Featuring Johnny GriffinUptown
David KikoskiAlmost TwilightCriss Cross Jazz
Yuko KimoraA Beautiful Friendship
Yuko KimoraNexus
Yuko KimuraBridges
Ryan KisorThe DreamCriss Cross Jazz
Marilyn LernerBirds Are ReturningJazz Focus
Achilles LiarmakopolousTrombone Atrivedo Opening Day
Gene LudwigThe Groove ORGANizationBlues Leaf
Joe MagnarelliMr. MagsCriss Cross Jazz
Virgina MayhewNini GreenChiaroscuro
Virginia MayhewNo WallsFoxhaven
Virginia MayhewPhantomsRenma
Virginia MayhewSandan ShuffleRenma
Virginia MayhewA Simple Thank YouRenma
Virginia Mayhew Mary Lou Williams: The Next 100 YearsRenma
Adriana MikiSashimikiApria
Wes MontgomeryDangerousMilestone
Dave PanichiBlues for McCoySpirit Song
Roberta PiketSoloThirteenth Note
Roberta PiketOne for MarianThirteenth Note
Roberta PiketWest Coast TrioThirteenth Note
Valery PonomarevBeyond the ObviousReservoir Music
Valery PonomarevThe MessengerReservoir Music
Valery PonomarevOur Father Who Art BlakeyZoho
Benny PowellCoast 2 CoastFaith
Benny PowellThe Gift of LoveFaith
Melvin RhyneKojoCriss Cross Jazz
Claudio RoditiDouble StandardsReservoir Music
Claudio RoditiFree Wheelin'Reservoir Music
Adonis RoseThe UnityCriss Cross Jazz
Jim RotundiReverenceCriss Cross Jazz
Harvie S & Sheryl BaileyPlucky StrumWhaling City Sound
Horace SilverParis BluesPablo
Gary SmulyanHigh Noon: The Jazz Soul of Frankie LaineReservoir Music
Doug TalleyNight and DaySerpentine
Uptown FiveUptown SwingHarlem
Various Artists: Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins & John ColtraneThe Prestige Legacy, Volume 1: The High PriestsPrestige
Ceder Walton, Ron Carter & Billy Higgins: Sweet Basil TrioSt. ThomasEvidence Music
Walt WeiskopfAnytownCriss Cross Jazz
Steve WeistOut of the NewArabesque
Deborah WeiszBreaking Up, Breaking OutVah Wa
Rich WilleyGone with the PiggiesConsolidated Artists Productions

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