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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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HORACE SILVER

Live at Newport '58

Blue Note 0946 3 98070 2 4

 

 



 
1. Introduction by Willis Conover
2. Tippin'
3. The Outlaw
4. Senor Blues
5. Cool Eyes
 
Horace Silver - Piano
Louis Smith - Trumpet
Junior Cook - Tenor sax
Gene Taylor - Bass
Louis Hayes - Drums

 

The 1958 Newport Jazz Festival was immortalised in the classic film documentary Jazz on a Summer's Day. Horace Silver's new quintet played there but wasn't featured in the film. This performance might have been lost altogether had not producer Michael Cuscuna unearthed a recording of the session. Horace Silver had already made his name as co-leader with Art Blakey of the Jazz Messengers, which became Blakey's band when Silver left in 1956 to form his own group. Horace had also established himself as a notable jazz composer with such numbers as Doodlin' and The Preacher.

This 1958 set is introduced by DJ Willis Conover and the band then launches into Tippin', a typically lively Silver composition, which shows off the quintet's talents. Tenorist Junior Cook is well-known but the surprise here is trumpeter Louis Smith, an excellent trumpeter who reminds me of Fats Navarro and Clifford Brown in his facility for getting around bebop sequences and creating thrilling solos. Smith didn't stay with the Horace Silver Quintet (he was superseded by Blue Mitchell) and it is a pity that he is so little remembered. Horace Silver's piano solo grooves along infectiously, although Louis Hayes's drums here and elsewhere are rather too dominant, with disruptive snare-drum accents interrupting the flow of the rhythm.

The Outlaw is an intriguingly structured piece, built up from diverse sections of varying length and bits of Latin-Americana. The band negotiates it well and, like many Silver compositions, it is immediately catchy. So, too, is Senor Blues, understandably one of Horace's most popular pieces with its propulsive vamp. The piano solo is a masterpiece of restrained yet funky blues playing. The set ends with what Horace introduces as "our theme song", Cool Eyes, a tune which is very much bebop but which shows the genre transforming into hard bop (which was actually a more accessible form of bebop).

This session is a welcome discovery, especially as the sound is remarkably good for a festival recording, although the four long musical tracks tend to sound primarily like extended blowing sessions rather than very structured performances. So - a good Horace Silver album but perhaps not absolutely essential one for anyone except the Silver completist or for newcomers interested in discovering the composer-pianist's particular brand of musical magic.

Tony Augarde

 

 

 

 



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