Horace Silver Quintet – Live at Newport ’58 – Blue Note 5099950316328, 44:42 *****:
(Horace Silver, piano, Louis Smith, trumpet; Junior Cook, tenor sax; Gene Taylor, bass; Louis Hayes, drums)
Winter, 2008, has been considerably warmed up with the release of a live July 6, 1958 recording of the Horace Silver Quintet. With only a Village Vanguard 1961 issue (Doin’ the Thing) thought to be the only live album in Silver’s 55 year career, this new previously unreleased recording is Nirvana to Silver’s legion of hard bop fans.
What is even MORE special is that this edition of Silver’s quintet features in the trumpet chair the brilliant under-recorded trumpeter, Louis Smith. Smith had a brief stay with Blue Note as a solo artist and those issues are collector’s items. Smith also had a brief association with Steeplechase Records in Europe, but it is his Blue Note albums that have a special niche with hard bop fanatics. Smith’s tenure with silver was brief-he was replaced by the equally lyrical Blue Mitchell, who along with Junior Cook, had a long run with Horace. The Mitchell/Cook pairing was considered by many to be the best front line after the 1950s that Silver ever had. Well, the Smith/Cook pairing would be a close second in my mind!
Silver’s set at Newport consisted of extended versions of Tippin’, The Outlaw, Horace’s classic, Senor Blues, and lastly, Cool Eyes. Tippin’ was recorded three weeks earlier as the flip side of a vocal version of Senor Blues in a 45 rpm issue. This CD’s producer, Blue Note honcho, Michael Cuscuna, found a professionally-recorded three-track master tape in Columbia Records’ vault-as they had recorded the entire 1958 Newport Jazz Festival. (Much of the balance of the ‘58 Festival artists are having their sessions issued this year, 50 years later.)
What strikes today’s listener to Silver’s 1958 short lived group is the power, drive and soulful swing of Louis smith on trumpet. He was a perfect foil for Junior Cook’s tenor sax. Silver, always noted for his comping, drives this band with his solos, both boppish and blues driven. Also making his presence felt is the great drummer, Louis Hayes, who is very upfront in the mix.
Tippin’ is a 13:20 workout with all parties featured. The Outlaw follows and its Latin beat is contagious. Newport’s version of Senor Blues is similar to Silver’s later Blue Note issue. Cool Eyes, later recorded on Six Pieces of Silver, closes the set and features an extended solo by Junior Cook, which is matched in intensity by Smith’s trumpet.
This first time issue – with respectable sound – is the highlight so far in early 2008 of new unreleased 1950s material. It is a required purchase for any Horace Silver fan. The rare addition of Louis Smith in this line-up gives it monumental significance.
– Jeff Krow