(Horace Silver, Piano; Randy Brecker, trumpet, flugelhorn; Bennie Maupin, tenor sax, flute; John Williams, bass; Billy Cobham, drums)
The theme of Horace Silver’s 1969 album, You Gotta Take A Little Love, is brotherhood and this is expressed in the way many of the songs have non-Western melodies. The Risin’ Sun has a slightly Japanese sounding theme, while It’s Time and The Belly Dancer sound Middle Eastern, the latter’s melody taken from an old Jewish musical scale. The RVG remaster has a light, colorful sound, especially with regards to Silver’s piano and Maupin’s flute.
The title track has a bright, catchy melody that sounds like the theme to a 70s sitcom. Trumpeter Randy Brecker plays a swinging solo that, unlike some of his other solos on the album, never strays too far from the melody. Maupin, too, plays a tenor sax solo that’s in the spirit of the song’s main theme. Silver’s solo is a perfect summation of the main progression, capturing the melody’s major-key lightness, but the way the cymbals, especially the ride cymbal, are mixed so loudly, they risk distracting from Silver’s playing. Apparently a problem many listeners have with RVG remasters is that they feel the drums are mixed too loudly, and this is the first instance in which I would agree.
Maupin’s playing on the the Risin’ Sun is a little wild for me, his phrasing very hey-look-what-I-can-do. Becker, too, seems to be showing off and it doesn’t serve the track. Silver’s solo, however, is something to hear, as he plays around with only playing two or three notes a measure and then slowly building up to more notes. Lovely’s Daughter, written by Bennie Maupin for his girlfriend (whose mother’s last name was Lovely, hence the title of the song) is flute-driven, but has trouble finding a solid melody. Silver’s solo on the track is more focused, but he too has trouble finding a melody to play around with.
The Belly Dancer, based on an old Jewish scale, begins with a duet between Brecker’s trumpet and Maupin’s flute that sounds charmingly Middle Eastern. Sadly, Brecker’s solo veers off away from the song’s melody into something too big for the track’s tone. Maupin’s flute on the track is suitably exotic and the highlight of the song.
While Silver’s gift for melody is quite evident, his sidemen often seem to use the songs as mere jumping off points for wild solos. Brecker and Maupin are both talented musicians, but I find their playing too often veers from Silver’s wonderful melodies, causing many tracks to seem disjointed. Certainly my preference for a controlled tone over wild improvisation biases me, but, especially on The Belly Dancer, it seems a shame to stretch a song past the limits of its mood and tone when those two elements are so enchanting.
TrackList: You Gotta Take A Little Love, The Risin’ Sun, It’s Time, Lovely’s Daughter, Down and Out, The Belly Dancer, Brain Wave.
– Daniel Krow