🎶 Pick a Dozen Horace Silver (late 50s to mid 60s on Blue Note)

Highlighting the Pick a Dozen series
With my collection having been digitized to a server several years ago, and utilizing a few different playback methods, I have taken to creating many playlists of favorite artists. I am by and large an album listener, but there are times (such as, when I'm involved in other activities) where I would prefer to listen to my personal highlights, or the hits. There are of course many anthologies and compilations in my collection, but there are also times I need to roll my own in order to get all of the highlights in one place, especially when an artist has recorded for more than a few record labels through their careers.

I have already compiled a lengthy Horace Silver playlist and, since I'm in creation mode, I thought I would challenge myself, and others, to create a playlist highlighting either a dozen of their favorite tracks, or a dozen that best represent the artist or open the path to newcomers. While some artists, I might span labels depending on where they recorded where with others, I might choose a dozen from an artist's tenure at one label, or one era, as they can span many eras.

With that in mind, I tortured myself to slim down my playlist to twelve selections of my favorite Horace Silver tracks. Silver was big on melody and/or exotic settings in his compositions. Unlike most hard bop, which I can't tolerate for more than a few songs, Silver's tracks often had such attractive melodies that I think even newcomers might find them listenable.

So my playlist contains the following selections in the given sequence:

  1. Song for my Father (from Song for my Father)
  2. Ecaroh (from Horace Silver Trio, Vol. 1: Spotlight on Drums)
  3. Yeah! (from Horace-Scope)
  4. Nica's Dream (from Horace-Scope)
  5. Senor Blues (from Six Pieces of Silver)
  6. Que Pasa? (from Song for my Father)
  7. The Cape Verdean Blues (from The Cape Verdean Blues)
  8. Let's Get to the Nitty Gritty (from Silver's Serenade)
  9. Pretty Eyes (from The Cape Verdean Blues)
  10. The Tokyo Blues (from The Tokyo Blues)
  11. Filthy McNasty (live, from Doin' The Thing {at the Village Gate})
  12. Lonely Woman (from Song for my Father)
Want to check it out? Here is the playlist, assembled via YouTube:

A couple of notes. Yes, three of the tracks are from a single album, Song for my Father, long considered Silver's greatest album by many. I've played it dozens of times, and looking at my music player, the track "Que Pasa" has gotten the most listens. And no list of great Silver songs can be without "Lonely Woman." "The Cape Verdean Blues" is probably the most playful hard bop song I've ever heard--a lively melody, many chord changes, and an equally lively tropical rhythm keep this one cooking along nicely. It almost sounds like a theme song, and if it doesn't get you moving, I suggest you check yourself for a pulse. 😁 "Nica's Dream" is right up there as one of Silver's most covered and most recognizable tunes. (My music player shows over 140 cover versions. There are likely many more.) And while many here know I am not a fan of most live albums, Doin' The Thing (at the Village Gate) is a cooker, and "Filthy McNasty" shifts its early swing rhythm into a full-on locomotive boogie once the solos kick in (courtesy of drummer Roy Brooks), and Silver is on fire with his lengthy solo.

The hardest part was eliminating other favorites of mine, and left out songs from his albums past 1970. I really like one of his later albums, The Hardbop Grandpop, for instance. Maybe I'll assemble another list one of these days.

Your turn! Are you familiar with Horace Silver's recordings? Offer up a dozen of your own picks and let's compare!

And watch for another Pick a Dozen feature in the near future. 👍


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Here's my list. With the exception of Nica's Dream, these are all from 1964-68. We definitely match up on the "hits".
  1. Nica's Dream
  2. Song For My Father
  3. The Natives Are Restless Tonight
  4. The Cape Verdean Blues
  5. Pretty Eyes
  6. Nutville
  7. Mo' Joe
  8. The Jody Grind
  9. Mexican Hip Dance
  10. Dimples
  11. Psychedelic Sally
  12. Serenade to a Soul Sister


¡Que siga la fiesta!
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Did you pick "Nica's Dream" from the Jazz Messengers album, or Horace-Scope?

I'll admit my list might change once I start listening to more of his records beyond 1965...or create a second list. 😁


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Yes, from Horace-Scope.

As you know, Horace averaged one release each year, 1964-69: Song For My Father, ('64) The Cape Verdean Blues (late '65), The Jody Grind (late '66), Serenade to a Soul Sister (early '68). Cape Verdean of course has J.J. Johnson added for the numbers on side two. On The Jody Grind, Joe Henderson leaves and is replaced by one of the most elusive Blue Note artists of the classic (1955-70) period: Tyrone Washington. As he did on Cape Verdean, Horace added another horn for half of the selections: James Spaulding (alto and flue). This one is my fave of the lot. Serenade to a Soul Sister finds Horace reorganizing once again: Charles Tolliver (trumpet) and Bennie Maupin (tenor); and as he did before, a guest artists -- this time Stanley Turrentine (tenor) -- is added on half the selections. The LP also includes lyrics...though Horace opted not to sing them! He's definitely feeling the spirit of rock music though with no concessions on this album. (There is, of course, a 1969 LP; I had it briefly, but recall Randy Brecker's trumpet playing was definitely a step below Woody Shaw Jr. or Charles Tolliver so I got rid of it.)


¡Que siga la fiesta!
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That has to be You Gotta Take A Little Love with Randy Brecker. Can't say I'm a fan of Maupin's incessant droning on tenor or soprano (IMHO he is the only part I don't like of Herbie Hancock's albums Head Hunters and Thrust). Although I did see a live performance video on the YouToobz with Maupin and, I believe Billy Cobham in Silver's group, and it wasn't bad. I do see that In Pursuit of the 27th Man had both Brecker brothers participating. And he was also into that United States of Mind series around the same time. I will probably get there at some point. 😁

I've really been enjoying Silver's Serenade lately. Given the few reissues, it seems as though it's an underappreciated gem. There is a lot of good playing on this one by all involved.
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