Horace Silver, Blowin’ The Blues Away

Kevin Whitehead

By Kevin Whitehead

on 05.18.11 in Reviews

Blowin' The Blues Away

Horace Silver
An underrated titan of jazz piano

Pianist Horace Silver always had the knack for writing funky tunes that got soloists' juices flowing, and made rhythm sections snap to attention. In the late '50s, he assembled one of his greatest quintets, with Blue Mitchell on trumpet, Junior Cook on tenor sax, bassist Gene Taylor and drummer Louis Hayes. When jazz fans imagine the virtues of Blue Note records, this is the sound in their heads: upbeat, bluesy and tight like "Sister Sadie," plaintive like "Peace." Mitchell's phrasing is incisive and assured — he's a diehard swinger; Cook's fast tumbling figures in his "Break City" solo initiate a dialogue of rhythms with Silver's jabbing punctuations. Conspicuous bonus: on two tracks Silver returns to the trio setting that made him a Blue Note star. On the earthy, intensely bluesy "St. Vitus Dance," his left hand's grunting interjections and cluster bombs link early jazz expressionist Jelly Roll Morton to slam bam Cecil Taylor. Silver's an underrated titan of jazz piano.