Horace-Silver
Pianist, composer and bandleader Horace Silver, one of the jazz world’s most influential stylists and significant composers, has died at his home of natural causes in New Rochelle, New York on 18 June aged 85, his son Gregory has confirmed.

Silver had been away from the scene for a number of years and in 2008 Keith Shadwick, one of Jazzwise’s senior writers, who himself sadly died in 2008, wrote a superb appreciation of Silver’s life and work, highlights of which we bring you here:

Silver was one of the most influential pianists in jazz and the very personification and creator of what has been called soul jazz, composing what are now standards such as ‘Sister Sadie’ and ‘Señor Blues’ and piloting a distinctive direction the Blue Note records sound would take. Initially making an impact with Art Blakey, who “borrowed” the name of Silver’s group to form The Jazz Messengers, Silver went on produce a series of classic albums for Blue Note in the 1960s, including the timeless ‘Song For My Father’ with the infectious bossa style of its much sampled title track and Silver’s own inimitable sense of the Cape Verdean blues.

The Connecticut-born Silver served a high-class apprenticeship in the jazz world, starting abruptly at the age of 23 in 1950 when his accompanying trio for a local Stan Getz gig made such an impression on the saxophonist that he hired them full-time and subsequently recorded early Silver compositions, including in January 1951 ‘Split Kick’. The pianist stayed with Getz through to April 1952, when he was part of a Getz quintet featuring Charles Mingus and Connie Kay playing New York’s Birdland. When Getz moved on Silver stayed in town. By the summer of 1952 he was making contacts with other younger players such as Lou Donaldson, whom he’d met (along with Art Blakey) at a rehearsal studio on 116th Street: he appeared on a Lou Donaldson session for Blue Note in June that revealed a player who had learned from Bud Powell and Dodo Marmarosa but who was already evolving his own concise and powerful improvisatory patterns and rhythms.

Silver played at Birdland with Coleman Hawkins’s Quintet over the early autumn of 1952, backing the great man as he swapped his front line trumpet support between Howard McGhee and Roy Eldridge. At one point Art Blakey took the drum chair in the band and the following month, October, saw Silver front his first trio sessions with Blakey on drums, when he recorded brilliant versions of ‘Horoscope’ and ‘Ecaroh’.

The pianist remained very active on the New York freelance scene during the following year, playing live and recording widely, including his last batch of trio sessions for Blue Note in November 1953 when ‘Opus de Funk’ was recorded. Three months later at Birdland once more the Art Blakey Quintet was taped by Alfred Lion. This band, the prototype for all subsequent Blakey bands, was stacked with talent from top to bottom: Clifford Brown, Lou Donaldson and Curly Russell joined Silver and Blakey to make for a memorable evening’s recording. However, this was not to remain as a working band, with Brown soon off to match up with Max Roach and Donaldson to run his own units. Silver continued to freelance, working intensively during 1954 with a galaxy of modern jazz stars including Miles Davis, Art Farmer, Gigi Gryce, Bob Brookmeyer, Milt Jackson and Clark Terry across a number of record labels including Prestige, EmArcy and MGM. Silver made four dates with Miles that year, including the famous Bags’ Groove session for Prestige that included Sonny Rollins and Kenny Clarke.

In the years between 1960 and 1964 Silver continued to develop his remarkable group in many directions (with Roy Brooks taking over on drums from Louis Hayes), making an unfailingly excellent series of albums for Blue Note such as Horace-Scope, Doin’ The Thing At The Village Gate, The Tokyo Blues and Silver’s Serenade. Of these, Doin’ The Thing stands out as Silver’s first ‘live’ date for Alfred Lion, delivering ‘Filthy McNasty’ into the world, while The Tokyo Blues impresses as one of Silver’s finest achievements, its many beauties, including its variety, subtlety and sensitivity being remarkable even in a career such as the pianist’s. By the time of the next album, however, Silver was ready for a change, although he wasn’t even aware of it himself. He had already attempted something different in April 1963 when he recorded Silver’s Serenade with a tentet, only to reject the results and use the Quintet a month later to successfully re-do the entire set.

Then, as Michael Cuscuna relates, things fell apart. “When Horace and I were reviewing all his unissued material in the studio in the mid '70s, we came across the four-tune October '63 session and the three-tune January '64 session. Horace was unhappy with the results at the time and after the January session, Alfred said to him, ‘maybe it's time for a change in terms of your band’. Horace thought about it and realized it was. That band had run its course. So he disbanded and started auditions that spring for the new group.”

In his post-Blue Note years, Silver also recorded for the Silverto Records/Emerald Records, Columbia and Impulse! labels in the 1980s and 90s, while he was also honoured in 2005 by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) who gave him its President's Merit Award. He may have been away from the limelight later in life, but his music and in particular his timeless compositions, continued to inspire a new generation of players both as performers and composers. See the August issue of Jazzwise for a retrospective look at his life and work.

 

diana-krall2014Singer and pianist Diana Krall releases a new album on Verve records in September, which will include her own special reinterpretations of songs that have inspired her since the late 1960s.

Wallflower is the first new studio recording from the five-time Grammy award winning singer since she released Glad Rag Doll in October 2012, which included jazz interpretations of vaudeville songs from the 1920s to the 1950s, was helmed by top roots producer T Bone Burnett, and debuted on the US Jazz Chart at No.1 and hit No. 6 on the Billboard national chart.

Wallflower, which is released on 6 October, includes Harry Nilsson’s ‘Everybody’s Talkin’’, the Mamas and Papas’ 'California Dreamin’', The Eagles’ ‘Desperado’, Elton John’s ‘Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word’, Bob Dylan’s ‘Wallflower’ and a previously unreleased new composition by Paul McCartney, ‘If I Could Take You Home Tonight’, all interpreted in her unique style that has seen her become the biggest selling female jazz album artist of the past 30 years.

The album is produced by David Foster, the Canadian pianist, songwriter and producer, who has a string of major production credits and 16 Grammy Awards. Krall previously worked with Foster, who is also chairman of Verve Music Group, on the soundtrack of The Score, a 2001 movie starring Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro where she performed ‘I’ll Make It Up, As I Go’, written by Foster. Commenting on the forthcoming release Krall said: “It was a nice change for me to be in the vocal booth with pretty much only David’s superb piano accompaniment and orchestrations.”

– Jon Newey


Longstanding contemporary movers, Partisans, who helped inspire 2000’s New Wave of Brit-Jazz, release a new album, Swamp, on 22 September with a launch gig at London’s Jazz In The Round and a UK tour follow.

The band, which includes guitarist Phil Robson, saxophonist Julian Siegel, bassist Thaddeus Kelly and drummer Gene Calderazzo, are releasing Swamp, their fifth album, on Whirlwind Recordings featuring eight new compositions by Robson and Siegal which they describe as: “swampy voodoo sounds, hi-life romps, burning post bop and ‘no messin’ rock-outs.” Watch an interview with the band on the new album below.

Following dates in late June in the USA Partisans will launch Swamp at London’s Jazz In The Round at the Cockpit Theatre on 29 September and will go on to play the Marsden Jazz Festival (11 Oct); Hare and Hounds, Birmingham (23 Oct); Fleece Jazz, Sudbury (31 Oct); Leicester Jazz, Leicester (5 Nov); The Victory Club, Cheltenham (14 Nov); Seven Jazz, Leeds (20 Nov); and Vortex Jazz Club at EFG London Jazz Festival (21 Nov).

– Jon Newey

For more info go to www.whirlwindrecordings.com

jimmy-scott
Jimmy Scott
, the singer who possessed one of the most hauntingly beautiful instruments in jazz, died at his home in Las Vegas on 12 June. He was 88.

Born on 17 July 1925 in Cleveland, Ohio, Scott had the rare congenital condition Kallmann's syndrome, which prevented the onset of puberty – as a result, his voice never deepened.

He toured with Lionel Hampton in the 1940s and recorded for Savoy Records. In 1962 Ray Charles produced and played on Scott's Falling In Love Is Wonderful, a ballads album which found the singer at the height of his powers. But less than a month after its release, Savoy Records boss Herman Lubinsky threatened legal action, claiming that Scott was still under contract. The record was removed from the shelves. Another major label release The Source met a similar fate, and between 1975 and 1990 Scott withdrew from recording entirely, returning to Cleveland and a series of menial jobs.

A remarkable second act in Scott's career came about when the 65-year-old vocalist sang at the funeral of long-time friend Doc Pomus in 1991. His otherworldly alto caught the ear of record exec Seymour Stein and by the following year he was back on tour, promoting his Grammy-nominated comeback album, All The Way.

Between 2000-2003, Scott released four acclaimed albums for the Milestone label, produced by Todd Barkan. Then, four decades after Lubinsky effectively prevented its release, Falling In Love Is Wonderful finally saw the light of day in 2003. It is undoubtedly his masterpiece: featuring beautifully sympathetic orchestral charts by Marty Paich and Gerald Wilson, Scott's seraphic singing, exquisite timing, and inimitable phrasing – plus that elusive quality he conveyed of intense loneliness or sorrow – combine to extraordinarily powerful effect.

Written by David Ritz with Scott's cooperation, the singer's biography Faith in Time: The Life of Jimmy Scott was published in 2002. A career-spanning 2CD anthology of 28 songs extending over half a century, Someone To Watch Over Me - The Definitive Jimmy Scott provides a useful conspectus of his singular oeuvre.

– Peter Quinn

cafe-society-swing
Café Society Swing
– the acclaimed musical review about the true story of the pioneering multi-racial New York jazz venue, that opened in 1939 with Billie Holiday making her professional debut with a show-stopping rendition of ‘Strange Fruit’ – returns to the Leicester Square Theatre, London this week for its second run from 17 to 21 June. First performed at the 2011 London Jazz Festival the work, which combines music and drama, was created and written by pianist/composer Alex Webb and features vocalists Vimala Rowe, Cherise Adams-Burnett and Ciyo Brown, alongside the Cafe Society All Stars band of saxophonists Jason Yarde and Denys Baptiste, drummer Shane Forbes, trombonist Winston Rollins and others.

The story traces the remarkable venue and its owner,
Barney Josephson, who strove to establish the first mixed race music venue against a backdrop of racism and deep social divides – yet in spite of this the nightclub hosted the likes of Lena Horne, Sarah Vaughan, Count Basie, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Big Joe Turner and many others. The show enjoys its first full West End run at the Leicester Square Theatre following two sold-out performances there last year and a 2012 residency at the Tricycle Theatre.

The show is also set to make its New York debut this year for three weeks from Tuesday 16 December at the 59E59 Theatre. This transatlantic version of the show has so far pencilled in three New York-based vocalists Allan Harris, Cherenee Wade and Cyrille Aimee, with a band featuring the Hot Tone record label's rhythm section of Mimi Jones (bass) and Shirazette Tinnin (drums) – both regulars with rising star saxophonist Tia Fuller. Pianist, arranger and MD Alex Webb will lead the otherwise all-American cast and musicians. The 59E59 Theater specialises in UK productions, and runs a yearly series called 'Brits Off Broadway'.

– Mike Flynn

For more info visit
www.leicestersquaretheatre.com

 

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