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Silver's Serenade (1963)

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Blue Mitchell

Horace Silver's LP Silver's Serenade is a swan song; it was the final recording with his most famous quintet, which included drummer Roy Brooks, bassist Gene Taylor, saxophonist Junior Cook, and trumpeter Blue Mitchell. The band had made five previous recordings for the label, all of them successful. The program here is comprised of Silver compositions. The blowing is a meld of relaxed, soulful, and swinging hard bop, as evidenced in the title track. However, "Let's Get to the Nitty Gritty" has one of those beautiful winding heads, beginning so slowly and then jumping a notch in both tempo and intensity. By the time the tune gets to full steam, though there are short stops, the joint is swinging in blues -- check Mitchell's solo on this tune and how he keeps returning to Silver's theme as the root for his blowing. "Sweetie Sweetie Dee" moves from hard bop to funky bop. The dissonant chords that open "The Dragon Lady" have an Eastern tinge. The tune's head is spacious and breezy within a minute, and the tune begins to swing. Silver returns to those chords again and again as if to keep the players inside the mode he's created, letting them solo for only a bit at a time. The knotty turn-on-a-dime changes in "Nineteen Bars," the final track, are pure instrumental and compositional virtuosity. Cook's blowing on his solo is matched by Silver's comping, moving through octaves and key changes. The tune smokes from start to finish as the album comes to a close. This is another excellent recording by the greatest Silver quintet. The 2006 Rudy Van Gelder Edition features no bonus tracks, but sound fanatics will be pleased by the clarity and separation here. ~ Thom Jurek