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The Jody Grind (1966)

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James Spaulding

Following the subtly modern bent of much of The Cape Verdean Blues, Horace Silver recommitted himself to his trademark "funky jazz" sound on The Jody Grind. Yet he also consciously chose to keep a superbly advanced front line, with players like trumpeter Woody Shaw (retained from the Cape Verdean session), altoist/flutist James Spaulding, and tenor saxophonist Tyrone Washington. Thus, of all Silver's groove-centered records, The Jody Grind winds up as possibly the most challenging. It's also one of the most underappreciated; Silver's piano playing is at its rhythmic, funky best throughout, brimming over with confidence and good cheer, and evoking memories of the classic feel of his early-'60s quintet. His compositions have a similarly bright overtone, which (as the liner notes allude to) was becoming increasingly rare in mid-'60s jazz as the fury of the avant-garde and the Civil Rights upheaval began to seep into jazz's wider consciousness. The title cut is a playful, overlooked classic on the funky side of hard bop; Silver kicks it with a tasty groove, giving the rest of the musicians plenty to play off of. The whole group absolutely burns through "Grease Piece," a terrific hard swinger full of smoking solo statements from just about everyone on down to drum whiz Roger Humphries. Really, the whole album is packed with great grooves and tight solos, epitomizing the best virtues of Silver's music. For those who have digested classics like Song for My Father, Blowin' the Blues Away, and Finger Poppin', The Jody Grind is one of the best places to go next. ~ Steve Huey