Song For My Father, Again

horaceI’ve told this story in broader strokes, but I have these very etched and very early memories of sitting in the living room of our very small garden apartment in Bayside, Queens, where we literally had plastic wrap covering the sofa and chairs, and hearing the sounds of Horace Silver coming from my father’s Fisher hi-fi console. My father was a big jazz fan and Silver was probably his favorite musician. He would play the Blue Note albums Blowin’ the Blues Away and Song For My Father constantly, and in my head I can still clearly picture him tapping his feet and taking a drag on his cigarette and taking a hearty sip of whatever alcoholic beverage he had concocted for himself. So when I got into jazz, the music of Horace Silver was already familiar to me and, like my dad, I loved it as well. There was an infectious joy in Horace Silver’s music and it always seemed as if he and all of the musicians were having a blast, loving what they were doing, and inspiring one another to higher levels of creativity. I also realized later on that Horace Silver was not just a great bandleader and composer, he was also a great pianist, one of the true greats of the post-bop era.

He doesn’t often get the due of a Bud Powell, but go back to some of those early Jazz Messenger albums or, really any of his work, and listen. He had the rare ability to take what was extremely complicated and make it sound simple. He also was a fantastic accompanist. My dad was a contemporary of Silver, and it’s been more than 15 years since he passed away, but in a way the passing of Silver yesterday is like saying goodbye again. So, goodbye to Horace and thank you for the music and the joy and the ongoing and never-ending connection to my own father. It was certainly no coincidence when I wrote about my dad and me I titled the article Song For My Father.

7 comments

  • Horace Silver was one of the first jazz artists I really became a fan of. He was my gateway into this wonderful world of music and I for one will be celebrating his legacy this evening by enjoying the wonderful music he left us. Rest in peace Horace.

  • Horace Silver’s output is magnificent and for the (once in a blue moon) occasions that people ask me to DJ at their parties, you simple can’t afford to *not* play something from Horace. Anything from the fifties and sixties will do perfectly – “Filthy McNasty” from ‘Doin’ The Thing’, for example, is a true floor filler up to this day. Just play it again at a nice and high volume – irresistible.

    I’d also like to mention his stuff from the seventies, ’cause when you have a few good dancers in the club, every DJ will grab the ‘Silver ‘n Brass’ album and play either “Kissin’ Cousins” or “The Sophisticated Hippie”.

    It’s exactly what Al says in his piece: it’s indeed the infectious joy in Horace Silver’s music that gets ever party started and it really does always sound as if he and all of the musicians are having a blast, that’s why his tracks work so well for DJ sets.

    So Horace Silver may have left this mortal coil, but the joy he still brings to the world with his superb music will last for a long, long, loooong time!

  • Gregory the Fish

    Such memories are lovely to hear of, Al. I have similar ones, but they mostly consist of classic rock, which has not taken the hold on me that jazz has. Haha.

    RIP Horace.

  • With all that’s been written over the last couple days, you may have summed it up best:

    “There was an infectious joy in Horace Silver’s music and it always seemed as if he and all of the musicians were having a blast”

    Indeed!!

  • I saw Horace at the Blue Note in NYC about 7 or 8 years ago. During his set he kept reminding the audience to buy his CDs after the show to help him “keep pork chops on the table.” After the set he was signing CDs and I respectfully went up to meet him and ask for a picture. He was focused on those pork chops and politely tried to hold me off until he was done (I didn’t have a CD because between my vinyl and discs at home I was set!). Nevertheless, he still shook my hand and looked up with a big smile as my brother snapped the pic. I’ll always remember how gracious he was to me despite the lack of pork chops (but let’s be fair – tickets were $50 or $60! ;))

  • Such a beautiful, sincere reflection, Al. Thank you so much for sharing…quite inspiring.

  • Nice words Al
    Horace was indeed the Daddy.
    So many great LPs
    I Just Had the ‘African Queen’ on
    from ‘The Cape Verdean Blues’ LP
    My god, he was so majestic.

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