The Horace Silver Quintet - Song for My Father
Nov 16, 2020
The History of the Albums – n°254 [1st 1965's episode]

If historically 1965 is a year marked above all by the war in Vietnam, politically the United States, currently in the midst of a conflict of racial segregation, is struggling to make progress on this point, especially with the assassination of Malcolm X. Regarding other disappearances, 1965 saw the deaths of politician Winston Churchill and the legendary singer Nat King Cole. Based on a few more joyful things now, 1965 is a very rich musical year. We officially enter the fabulous period when countless treasures were released for our greatest happiness. It is inconceivable to be bored if you study these wonderful sixties, because there are so many innovative things that have marked music forever, that it would be ridiculous not to understand where most of the basics come from. So what are the highlights to remember that defined 1965 in music? First of all, there is the official democratization of Spiritual Jazz, thanks in particular to John Coltrane, one of the main actors of this new form of Jazz. For popular music, in the aftermath of the British invasion, Folk Rock, Garage Rock and Pop Rock dominate the overall trends. Moreover even Bob Dylan got closer to a more rock sound. The year is also marked by the progressive rise of hippies and Californian culture, symbolized by Sunshine Pop and the first psychedelic movements. Finally, if Soul is still about its leadership, a certain James Brown is going to create the first Funk songs, a major change, especially for the years to come.

However, despite the great number of innovations, the year 1965 begins with a Jazz classic signed by a great legend, a thirty year old named Horace Silver, with Song For My Father, a great album but not revolutionary. That didn't stop its from going down in history.To describe him in a few words, Horace Silver is a cult jazz composer and pianist who started his career in the early 50s. Horace Silver has always worked mainly in Hard Bop and Cool Jazz. Among his best early achievements are of course Finger Poppin' With the Horace Silver Quintet (1959), 6 Pieces of Silver (1957) and Blowin' the Blues Away (1959), yet despite his more traditional bop style and rather conservative style, Horace Silver continued to build his immense career with a handful of excellent albums in the 60s. Moreover the album we will study today remains to this day the most famous and most appreciated reference.If his role was more in the 60's to innovate, Horace Silver had so much genius, that he managed to offer us particularly wonderful albums and compositions based on things he mastered or on various themes

Between 1963 and 1964, Horace Silver created an album dedicated to his father of Portuguese origin, which gave birth to Song For My Father. For this, Horace Silver went to Brazil, following in his father's footsteps (although he was born in Cape Verde), where he literally fell in love with the local culture and music, including the famous Latin Jazz from there. In addition to being very enriching, this trip gave him new ambitions. He then organized a few sessions between 1963 and 1964, forming 2 new quintets. Among those found mainly on the initial album (the first 6 tracks) are the tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson, the little known but formidable trumpeter Carmell Jones, the bassists Teddy Smith or Gene Taylor, and the percussionists Roger Humphries or Roy Brooks. The main musical idea was to impregnate Latin music to articulate it around original Hard Bop and Soul Jazz compositions. Most of the artists interested in Brazilian music often used covers in their work, while Song For My Father is totally new, in order to respect the personal concept around Horace Silver's father. If the album is so well known and remains the one with the best reputation, it's for 2 simple reasons. The first one is that the album was a great commercial success, especially thanks to its eponymous composition. The second is that it is without question the most successful and brilliant work of his entire discography.

Song For My Father is clearly the album to listen if you want something smooth and warm. You won't find any negativity, only good mood and love. The quintet delivers an incredible performance, managing to take your mind off their longstanding collaboration with Blue Mitchell, with improvisations, solos and dreadfully catchy melodies. This album has 2 faces that are nevertheless sensible to oppose, which finally come together to create an outstanding work. On the one hand you have this mainstream aspect which allows it to be effective, and on the other hand you have this complexity of writing and realization of the compositions which are simply extraordinary. To tell you the first time I listened to it, I was left wondering why this album was considered an absolute classic. There's no innovation and it's mainstream. Yet after listening to it, I understood at some point every moment of this album was not just a Hard Bop/Latin Jazz basic recital. The number of details and the combination of all the facets that this album offers are amazing and end up showing you things that you hadn't understood before. It's just impressive
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