Horace Silver: Seņor Blues (Live at Newport)


Senor Blues


Horace Silver (piano)


Live at Newport '58 (Blue Note 98070)

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Horace Silver (piano), Junior Cook (tenor sax), Louis Smith (trumpet), Gene Taylor (bass), Louis Hayes (drums).

Composed by Horace Silver


Recorded: Live at the Newport Jazz Festival, Newport, Rhode Island, July 6, 1958


Rating: 91/100 (learn more)

I read in the paper the other day that the value of Silver is on the rise. The folks at Blue Note must have taken notice, and dug into their vaults for some hidden Silver artifacts.

Okay, you want to gripe that Blue Note kept a great session unreleased for a half century. But that wouldn't be fair. In point of fact, the label only waited 49 years, 6 months and 28 days before letting us hear Horace Silver's dynamic Sunday afternoon set from the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival.

But we're lucky to get this at all. Thanks to Michael Cuscuna, who tracked down tapes (currently housed in the Columbia archives) that George Avakian had made of the entire festival that year, we can enjoy the sound of a great Silver band playing at top form. The sound quality is also outstanding -- not always a given when the Gringott's goblins dig up lost tapes from their dark, deep vaults.

Silver had enjoyed a mini-hit the previous year with "Seņor Blues," and Blue Note even issued a 45-rpm single version to take advantage of the song's appeal. But the Newport audience is treated with the extended version, almost nine minutes long. Silver was a master of Latin, funk and hard-bop grooves, but he rarely did a better job of putting them all together into a single arrangement. Not only has this performance held up well after five decades, but it makes one nostalgic for the days when a memorable instrumental chart could become a jazz classic and a popular hit.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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    • 1 Mitchell Feldman // Feb 01, 2008 at 01:12 PM
      Ted - the statement adds to the excitement you feel for this great CD and adds some drama to your review but to imply Blue Note waited at all to release this CD is unfair. I'm sure they released it as soon as they could after Michael Cuscuna found it. "Paris Blues" -- another previously unissued Silver concert Blue Note released in 2002 (this time recorded in 1962 in Paris by Norman Granz) is worth checking out as well. Mitchell Feldman
    • 2 Ted Gioia // Feb 02, 2008 at 06:45 AM
      Of course, I don't think Blue Note deliberately kept this session off the market for fifty years. I credit Michael Cuscuna's efforts in uncovering this music in the second paragraph of my review.