Horace Silver: The Preacher

"I can't stand the faggot-type jazz," Horace Silver fumed to Down Beat in 1956, "the jazz with no guts." He didn't name names, but insinuated West Coast jazz, then at high tide. Homophobic Horace's alternative was funk, which to hipsters meant earthiness. Despite its title, "The Preacher" was funk incarnate, a down-to-earth, backslapping, goodtime Reverend with fire but no brimstone. Surprisingly, given his missionary masculinization, Horace was born not in a barrelhouse but in Norwalk, Connecticut—founded in 1640, rebuilt after the British torched it during our Revolutionary Unpleasantness, and renowned for oysters. Horace Silver was Norwalk's funkiest pearl.

November 01, 2007 · 0 comments


Donald Byrd: Here Am I

When the New York Herald Tribune coined the term “hard bop,” it was like saying “wet water.” Bop had always been hard as tempered steel. Musicians could no more play soft bop than a fainthearted Sousa march. Still, the term caught on, perhaps because it provided a contrast to the alleged flaccidity of West Coast jazz. Detroiters Donald Byrd and Pepper Adams were hard-bop standard bearers, and "Here Am I" is a worthy anthem. Nonpareil soundman Rudy Van Gelder brings out both the tonal purity of Byrd's trumpet and the serrated edge of Pepper's pneumatic baritone. Gimme more wet water.

Attention Sharp-eyed Shoppers! Don't be put off by Amazonian dyslexia. Donald Byrd entitled this piece "Here Am I," not "Here I Am." But it's the same track.

October 29, 2007 · 0 comments


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