Sing Along With Horace

Woke up this morning (no, that is not going to be the beginning of a blues lyric)…

…and made this the background music to preparations for the day.

I chose it because I wanted something that had solos I could sing, hum and whistle along with as I fixed breakfast. Every note of Horace Silver’s second Blue Note album, the first by the Jazz Messengers, has been embedded in my brain since shortly after it was released in 1955. My record collection then consisted of 10 or 12 LPs. This was one of them. I played it so often that Silver’s, Kenny Dorham’s and Hank Mobley’s solos and Art Blakey’s drum choruses became part of my mind’s musical furniture. Silver, Blakey and bassist Doug Watkins comprised a rhythm section that was the standard for what came to be called, for better or for worse, hard bop. Dorham and Mobley, with their deep knowledge of chord-based improvisation, constructed some of their most memorable solos. Silver’s compositions—and one by Mobley—are classics.

Having heard “Room 608,” “The Preacher,” “Doodlin’” and the other tunes on this indispensable album this morning, I’ll feel good all day. Listen, and you will, too.

I’ll be on the road for the next couple of days. Blogging will resume eventually. In the meantime, please search the archives.

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  1. John Birchard says

    I have a similar relationship with several of Silver’s albums – Six Pieces of Silver, Song for My Father and Blowin’ the Blues Away… I sing along with the ensembles, know the solos by heart, love them to death. I recently sold my LP collection after decades of hauling them around from old home to new home – but before doing so, I transferred the Great Stuff to CD – and those Silver albums are among them. Not to mention Art Farmer’s Modern Art and Donald Byrd’s Royal Flush. Classics worth their weight in gold – or Silver.

    • Brian Turner says

      Thank you Doug for the ‘trigger’….I put Horace’s lp on this morning, and enjoyed it so much I followed with three other early Silvers….he did cook.

  2. says

    If that’s Silver just Doodlin’, imagine the gold if he really got serious.But seriously, your bringing this work of art, I mean Horace, to our ken also brings to mind another group and album you as a West Coast guy gone national might remember well too—The Mastersounds Play Horace Silver. That foursome did some excellent Doodlin’ themselves, not so Hard Bop I guess, but for us folks out West still a curiosity-rousing introduction to Silver’s World of Soul-gone-Jazz..

  3. Rob D says

    Why isn’t there anyone like Silver on the current scene? Great compositions, arrangements that stay in your head for weeks, memorable and often short and concise ensemble passages, solos that fit the tune.

    This is not a rant against the current state of jazz but I don’t see anyone having a run of excellence like Silver did.

    John B..I love the records you mention as well especially Modern Art——timeless.

    • says

      Hi Rob —

      Well, you maybe right, there isn’t “anyone (around today), having a run of excellence like Silver did”, but the glorious days are over when young folks like Benny Golson were happy when “old” fellows like Miles Davis played their compositions. This happened in 1955, and the new tune was “Stablemates”.

      The times are definitely over when jazz and pop were sides of the very same coin. Nowadays, everyone is stewing in her/ his own juice. Or would you think that a “young” composer, and jazz artist like me would have the chance to “sell” only one of his compositions to a well established star who would play it?

      Here, it may be quite shameless to abuse Doug’s blog for endorsing it, but you have asked for “anyone with excellence”, meaning contemporary jazz musicians I suppose? 😉 — It’s a brand new composition, it’s not too complicated, and after some closer listening one could sing along with it too:

      “Oh, don’t be that way — modesty will get you nowhere.” — Charlie Parker said this to Paul Desmond, when he was, in Bird’s opinion, “diminishing” himself:

      And so, I won’t make the same mistake, and will proudly announce this, and others of my compositions.

      • Rob D says

        I really like the tune, Bruno.

        I really try to stay ahead of what is happening in jazz but it’s so very hard and time-consuming. No one wants to be the old fogey desparately trying to hold onto an earlier era..but the overall richness of jazz from the 40s to 60s is amazing.

        Someone told me on a newsgroup once that there is just as much talent out there in the jazz field as there every was. But most of it isn’t being recorded. Not sure how true that was but I suspect we are all missing out on good stuff in any case since we all have (presumably) limited incomes to invest in music collections.

        I made a small rule though..for every old reissue I buy, I MUST buy a new release by a contemporary jazz artist. It’s working out pretty good, especially with the help of Doug and the posters on here. I recognize that some of you posted on the late and somewhat lameted, which in its heyday had a similiar vibe to this cool blog.

  4. says

    Thanks for the cheers, Rob.

    As for your rule: If I had done that for the last 20 years, I would need an extra room for only the LPs, and another one for CD’s. As Doug knows too well, am I bullheadedly searching for old vinyl; to make it worse, I’m really quite ignorant when it comes to the current scene, just because I think that my friends and I *are* that current scene.

    As an improviser, and composer I personally don’t need all those hyped new releases of so called “young”, upcoming sensations, just because I think: ‘And what about us, the 40 to 50+ fellows?!’ — We are still around, right?

    The main problem for me is, if it’s really a “problem”, that there are so many things in the glorious past of jazz, no, of all music, I have never heard, or to which I have listened only once (after I have purchased the, yes, the LP!) that I would need more than one life to learn all the things I don’t know yet.

    And so, I’m quite brutally choosing, sorting out, getting rid of things I won’t listen to anyway; or I reconsider, and will lay it aside to give it another chance.

    And please never forget one thing: We musicians have to practice our instruments too, and can’t care for every new upcoming supposed-to-be talent. Who will talk about Diana Krall in a hundred years, or about Till Brönner (puns intended), or, well, about a certain Brew Lite? Or even about the probably most hyped of them all: Wynton Marsalis?

    I know of some cats whose records/ scores/ films/ choreographies/ paintings, or books will be discussed when everyone of us will be only a whisper in the wind. And ’cause that’s so, will I stubbornly keep on searching for the (yet) unheard, and will keep on burning CDs for my students, and deliver them sounds that they would rarely be able to hear on today’s radio programs.