Pure Jazz Magazine is a semi annual magazine featuring in depth Jazz stories, interviews plus other information you may find interesting. Based in Brooklyn, USA for the world.
Presidents and racial statesmen had not been assassinated yet and the political cynicism of our current national landscape was yet to be created. There was pride in the country as the place where the most incredible music on earth was born. Maestros the level of Horace Silver were sharkskin clad ambassadors all over the planet and because of the music alone, everybody in the world loved America. The times regarded cool and ability over money and hype. The whole world was ready for the new directions Silver and others were taking the Parker/Gillespie invention of Bebop. True to his muse, Horace Silver always kept the feeling of party music in his artistry. His hits had the dance music feel of ‘let your hair down and get some sweat on that mohair suit’. Funky Jazz lived in the forefront of the music scene right beside Rhythm & Blues, contesting for radio air play through artists like Ray Charles, Jimmy Smith, the Adderley Brothers, Shirley Scott, McDuff & Stitt, and the Jazz Crusaders. Silver pioneered data-mining different musical scales, cultural rhythms templates, and interesting time signatures as the foundations for many of his most popular tunes. His own background as a descendent of Cape Verdean soil provided him a folkloric spine for his greatest hit, SONG FOR MY FATHER. The Silver ability to hear great Jazz from mundane circumstances gave him a hit record based on the oratory style of THE PREACHER, another tune that went classic as soon as Silver recorded it. Horace Silver found hot party music in every direction. The relevance of his musical skills is proven by the many references Jazz heads make to “back in the day”. The good feelings that came with Horace Silver’s music is what they are talking about. It is not enough to say it was a simpler time. It is closer to the truth to say people were better then. People meant you well, enough to acknowledge universal humanity. Silver’s music reflects that Horace Silver kind of universality; the birthright of a good time, for everyone. Fierce populist that he was, most Silver solos include ‘folk-riffs’ that allowed inclusion to even the least Jazz listener. A listener on YOUTUBE. commented about hearing “…coming round the mountain” in a Silver solo. How democratic is that? Which is no contradiction to the same truth that Horace Silver is the creator of some of the most complex and intricate piano solos in the Hard Bop era. Horace Silver could play piano with and for anybody swinging music. The Silver exploration of ‘Le Jazz Hot’ was most often conducted from the platform of the quintet, with trumpet and saxophone as the front line supported by a rhythm section of piano, bass and drums. Big Band Swing music is the parent of Bebop and give a stage to the great soloists who could shine against the full sound of the surrounding members of the whole band ensemble. Outstanding, hard blowing, full sounding soloists became known as ‘Cookers’ because they raised the temperature of the music with solos improvised from creativity and musical expertise. The Silver Quintet is always and only composed of ‘Cookers’. In addition to the wide open, all out party direction of Silver’s compositions, is the blended precise unison note execution from the front line of ‘Cookers’. Blue Mitchell and Junior Cook were a signature tandem extending the cooker tradition at the same time that they helped the Silver Quintet to maintain Page 32 - Pure Jazz Magazine
the excitement and atmosphere of a big band. It is interesting to me that unison ‘front line’ stayed a major feature of Art Blakey’s Messengers from the time he was associated with Silver and after. Blakey’s Messengers project, as well, the atmosphere of a big band ensemble, led by cookers. The big band ambiance from a small group is one of the advances that Silver, Blakey and others of this musical period afforded the Jazz listening world. The Hard Bop feeling and sound is its own template and division of the Jazz pantheon. of his work, with different sidemen, inclusive of European concerts and foreign recordings. There is much pleasure in watching the old tapes from the 50’s and 60’s. The music is grand and the players a joy to witness in their exuberance and precision. I surf the Jazz on YOUTUBE as often as possible. It teaches me about artists I have little real experience of and refreshes my love for others I know well. Perhaps the best element I enjoy the most is the fact that the videos come to me free. The only cost is the time it takes to see these marvels. I thought I had a pretty good collection of Horace Silver, until I began to experience YOUTUBE selections I did not own. It was like widening my vision to hear how much of his works had escaped my notice. The Internet re-captured the Silver magic in an array of situations and locations I will remain grateful to have seen and heard. I recommend everyone tune in to the opportunity while it is still free information. Silver is the master of the cookers. His solos, framed in tempo by bass and drum, are single finger musings that wander his artistry up and down scales, telling stories of simplicity, elegance, and humor. There is such a powerful element of concentration in Silver’s solos that he seems to lead the listener by dropping musical bread crumbs along the trail of the tune. Never banal, Horace Silver solos as if he is allowing others to hear his personal engagement with the music. Entranced, he plays under his own spell as if communicating back to the tune. The resulting music is always fresh and in the moment, no matter how often Silver has played the tune. Generations of Silver Quintet alumnus speak of how Horace Silver’s approach to SONG FOR MY FATHER kept the tune new to his audiences every performance, for decades. That alone is testament to the artistic dedication involved with preserving a wonderful musical experience. That he continuously invented differing solos for the same song is to elevate that tune to the realm of ‘living music’. Each rendition is an individual wonder in itself, yet the tune remains the one we all know and love, no matter the number of versions. I must praise YOUTUBE and their Jazz archivists for a terrific collection of performance videos and album recordings of Horace Silver’s work. There is a virtual education to be had on him at their site and it is not limited to a few samples. There are generations Music Is My Life Politics My Mistress DVD www.cduniverse.com/productinfo.asp?pid=8097344 Pure Jazz Magazine - Page 33