May 28, 2024

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1950s were Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers and the Horace Silver Quintet. One wasn’t better than the other: Photos, Videos

Two of the most dominant and successful hard bop groups of the 1950s were Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers and the Horace Silver Quintet.

One wasn’t better than the other. Their differences were a matter of flavors and hues. Blakey’s group tended to be mightier and bluesier. Silver was funkier and more lyrical, largely because he composed and arranged many of the songs with a jaunty bop feel. [Photo above of Horace Silver by Francis Wolff]

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Of Silver’s vast catalog of exceptional albums, Horace-Scope has always been a cut above in terms of its flawless execution, brightly written songs and warm instrumental choreography. Recorded on July 8 and 9, 1960 at Rudy van Gelder’s studio in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., Horace-Scope showcased Blue Mitchell (tp), Junior Cook (ts), Horace Silver (p), Gene Taylor (b) and Roy Brooks (d). The track list features the plucky mid-tempo Strollin’,the bouncy Where You At?, the ballad Without You, the upbeat Horace-Scope, the minor-major glider Yeah!, the cakewalk-y blues Me and My Baby and the barn-burner Nica’s Dream.

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When Rudy and I were done with the interview, I asked him if we could listen to a track off the album. Rudy obliged. In short order, out of those astonishing monitor speakers in the booth leapt Strolln’. As the song flooded the space, I stared out into the studio through the glass, imagining the music being created live in 1960 the Rudy’s sauna-like wood setting and cathedral ceilings. Turning to Rudy, I raised my eyebrows twice. He seemed nonplussed—as if I had forced a baker to eat one more eclair. As I recall, he smiled, leaned back and said something like, “All in a day’s work.”

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Nevertheless, I think of Rudy every time I listen to Horace-Scopeand how he managed to capture all of that nuanced energy and fire with his magically placed microphones.

Horace Silver died in 2014; Rudy Van Gelder died in 2016.

The complete album…

The Horace Silver Quintet in 1958, featuring Blue Mitchell (tp), Junior Cook (ts), Horace Silver (p), Gene Tailor (b) and Louis Hayes (d)…

The Horace Silver Quintet in 1974 playing Liberated Brother, with Tom Harrell (tp), Bob Berg (ts), Horace Silver (p), Mike Richmond (bass) and Willian Goffigan (d)…

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