🎶 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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