Hunting vintage jazz vinyl records in the Nutmeg State
Horace Silver, piano
with Blue Mitchell (trumpet), Junior Cook (tenor saxophone), Gene Taylor (bass), and Roy Brooks (drums)
Recorded live at the Village Gate, Greenwich Village, New York City
As far as I can tell, this is not a first pressing, because this record was put out the year before the “NEW YORK USA” labels came into use.
Some of the first jazz albums I really dug into when I was in high school, Horace Silver’s A Song for My Father (1964, BNLP-4185) and Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers’ A Night at Birdland Vol. 1 (1954, BNLP-1521), were ones that I found to be particularly exciting. It didn’t necessarily hit me at first that the excitement factor came from Silver’s compositions, which were thoroughly creative front to back. Anyone can write a head that just seems to exist in order to get in and out of the solos, but at a time when a lot of musicians were mining Tin Pan Alley instead of writing their own material, Silver’s pen was the most attractive aspect of his records. Add to that the fact that Silver is amongst the most prolific of Blue Note’s musicians who released albums as leaders, and you’re talking about a really special musician with a lot of amazing compositional material.
Although those two CDs made up a large part of my initial exposure to Silver, his albums make up a respectable portion of my small collection of Blue Note originals, and spending time with them has really opened my eyes to his genius. This particular LP is a home run for me. One entire side of bluesy compositions (including “Filthy McNasty” which I had heard big band arrangements of but did not own the album with the original version), backed with classy hard bop (“Kiss Me Right”) and one of my favorite Silver compositions, “The Gringo.” This version of Silver’s quintet had been together for around 2 years, which is clear on the record: the band is a tight unit, Blue Mitchell’s concentrated trumpet blast cooled off by the warm gust of Junior Cook’s tenor saxophone. I especially like Roy Brooks’s playing on this LP – his playing is coloful behind each soloist and his solo on “The Gringo” is fluid without the jaunty muscle that perhaps Art Blakey would have brought to it (not a dig on AB, but isn’t it the truth?).
My copy of this LP was used but not abused – the second tune on each side sounds stellar, but the first handful of minutes has a little bit of crackle and sizzle underneath the music. No big POPs though. It’s another one of those trade off’s, where some of the most noteworthy music comes at the beginning of the side…which is also where the record is most susceptible to damage, dirt, etc. But it’s worth it – hearing this music on vinyl really preserves the energy that makes Silver’s compositions come to life. I’ve got friends and acquaintances, some who have probably spent more time with vinyl records because they are older, who don’t really “get” the magic of records compared to CDs or digital…all I can say is you really don’t understand it until you hear it and feel it.