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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

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Funky Pieces of Silver: The Horace Silver Songbook

HighNote HCD 7176




Sister Sadie – Charles Earland
Juicy Lucy - Houston Person
Blowing The Blues Away – Charles Earland
The Preacher - Joey DeFrancesco
African Queen - Russell Gunn
Song For My Father - Papa John DeFrancesco
Strollin' – Charles Earland
The Outlaw - Joe Chambers
Quicksilver – Charles Earland

This is why I generally love the HighNote label. Its roster of artists seems to consist mainly of musicians who know how to play no-nonsense jazz, without pretension or pseudery. This CD is the first of a series called "The Composer Collection" which will highlight the work of a particular composer. And who better to start with than Horace Silver? He has a knack for writing tunes which are melodic as well as groovy, as you can see from the list of titles. Sister Sadie and The Preacher have an irresistible funky feeling, while Song For My Father has rightly become a jazz standard because of its infectious bossa nova rhythm and memorable tune.

Organists have the lion’s share of this album, probably because Horace Silver’s compositions perfectly suit the Hammond organ format. Seven of the nine tracks include the Hammond, with Charles Earland responsible for three examples. Earland is fairly laid-back, at least compared to the other two organists: "Papa" John DeFrancesco and his son Joey. Joey displays his dexterity in The Preacher and supports his father by playing trumpet on Song For My Father.

Of the non-organ tracks, Juicy Lucy features the beguiling tenor-sax of Houston Person, while The Outlaw has drummer Joe Chambers leading a Latin-flavoured quintet which, with Joe also playing vibes, sounds rather like groups led by Cal Tjader. Among the sidemen, tenor-saxist Eric Alexander is outstanding, contributing some lissome saxophone to four tracks. Guitarist Melvin Sparks shines in Sister Sadie and Song For My Father.

Altogether an album which may not be life-changing but which is gently life-enhancing.

Tony Augarde





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