Wednesday, 3 December 2014
Killer Opening Songs (Song For My Father by Horace Silver)
Kind of Blue is the go-to album for people who are first introduced to jazz. Whether initially averse to the genre or curious about its intrinsic musical patterns, neophytes are usually given Miles Davis 1959 masterpiece as a way to join the ever-expanding jazz community. That is why Kind of Blue has remained such a powerful symbol of the coolness of jazz.
This is not fair on other equally ground-breaking records, however. There’s Alice Coltrane’s harp-driven, lyrical and sublime third album, Ptah, the El Daoud, Mary Lou Williams’ groovy and blues-infused Free Spirits and ass-kicking (pardon K.O.S.’s French) Horace Silver’s 1965 LP Song forMy Father.
Killer Opening Songs will concentrate on the third of these three albums tonight. Inspired by a trip Horace Silver made to Brazil, Song for My Father was one of Blue Note’s signature records from the sixties. Silver’s mother was of Irish and black descent, and his father was originally from Cape Verde. The influence of this ethnic mix on Horace is what makes Song for My Father such an enjoyable record.
Equally, part of what makes the record successful is the Killer Opening Song, the title song that is dedicated to Horace’s father, John Tavares Silva. This melody is quintessential hard bop with a funk element added in for good measure. Uncharacteristically it is not the binomial of drum and bass that kicks off the track but Horace’s deeply, swinging, groovy piano accompanied by tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson (although in the clip below both trumpet and saxophone come in at the same time at the outset). The feel of not just the Introductory Track with Murder Tendencies but of the whole album is one of ebullience and optimism. Calcutta Cutie has an air of eeriness about it whilst Que Pasa is a foot-tapping, catchy little number.
Now that Christmas is almost here, maybe it’s time to revisit your gift lists (if you are in the habit of making them up) and include this gem of a record. After all, it is not only Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue that has the knack to express the coolness of jazz, but also Horace Silver’s Song for My Father. And once again it is partly down to the Killer Opening Song.
Next Post: “Sunday Mornings: Coffee, Reflections and Music”, to be published on Sunday 7th December at 10am (GMT)