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Horace Silver: 'Song for My Father'


A.B. SPELLMAN, National Endowment for the Arts: Murray Horwitz, this is Horace Silver playing "Song for My Father," one of his famous compositions. Why do you like this CD?

MURRAY HORWITZ, American Film Institute: I don't know if anybody, like me, can ever use the word mature in a sentence, and be taken seriously. But, it is a kind of a maturation of the hard-boppers, who sort of did a funkier thing than the straight bebop that was prevalent in the 1940s and early '50s. And by 1964, when this was recorded, it really is a kind of mature sound. These men know exactly what they are doing.


SPELLMAN: Horace Silver's own piano style is very syncopated and very heavily chorded.

HORWITZ: And for that reason, I think you put your finger onto something. It's deceptive. You know, because, it doesn't sound like he's doing much. But if you listen carefully, he's always building it, emotionally and intellectually, and therefore musically. He builds these wonderful solos in a way that you hardly notice that he's doing it.

SPELLMAN: Horace is as much recognized as a composer as he is for a soloist. So, what are your favorite compositions on this one?

HORWITZ: Right, A.B., he's written a lot of jazz standards, really, that have been recorded by the likes of Dizzy Gillespie and Art Blakey. On this record, the title tune, "Song for My Father," pays kind of an homage to his father, who came from the Cape Verde Islands. There's a gorgeous, piano trio ballad called, "Lonely Woman."


SPELLMAN: The musicians on this CD are a mixture of very well known soloists like Joe Henderson, Horace, Junior Cook, and Blue Mitchell, but also some lesser known musicians.

HORWITZ: There's a trumpet player named Carmell Jones. There's a drummer named Roger Humphries. And one of the delights of jazz music, I think, is that very often some people who you've never heard of can come up with some very satisfying, and very swinging performances. And all of these performances are swinging.


HORWITZ: This is actually an album that was kind of patched together back in the '60s at a moment when Horace Silver changed the personnel in his band, so you actually have two different bands playing on different sessions. And that gives a littler more excitement to the record, I think. That's one of the reason that I like it, I've decided, because it's exciting music. And there's a littler grittier texture to the new band, because maybe they aren't used to playing together as much.


SPELLMAN: So, for your NPR Basic Jazz Record Library, we're recommending Song for My Father by the pianist Horace Silver. It's on the Blue Note label. For NPR Jazz, I'm A.B. Spellman.

HORWITZ: And, I'm Murray Horwitz.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

A. B. Spellman
Murray Horwitz

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