Silver_span3
March 2008

Horace Silver
Live at Newport ’58
Blue Note Records

Here’s another example of jazz forensics paying off big-time. Thanks largely to producer Michael Cuscuna’s detective work at the Library of Congress and some subsequent sleuthing, this previously unreleased recording is now ours to enjoy. Play it back to back with Doin’ the Thing: At the Village Gate, Horace Silver’s renowned (and recently remastered) 1961 recording, and you’ve heard it all—at least all the officially released concert performances in Silver’s discography.

If that’s not enough to qualify Live at Newport, ’58 as a rarity, the presence of trumpeter Louis Smith certainly is. A gifted musician who never received the recognition due him, Smith more than held his own during this live performance, a closing set recorded at the Newport Jazz Festival. That’s no small feat, too, given the company Smith was keeping: pianist Silver (who’s in fine form and often playful spirit here), tenor saxophonist Junior Cook, bassist Gene Taylor and drummer Louis Hayes.

Smith, who was succeeded in the quintet by trumpeter Blue Mitchell two months after this concert, initially distinguishes himself on the brisk hard-bop anthem “Tippin’,” displaying a brash tone and an aggressive attack. Best known, if known at all, as a 45-rpm B-side, “Tippin’” is the first of four tunes that inspire expansive performances, though the ever-resourceful Hayes never allows a lull to intervene. After Silver introduces his “brand new group,” the focus shifts to “The Outlaw,” notable for Cook’s singing tone, Hayes’ Latin interjections and Silver’s calypso tints; the classic “Senor Blues,” with the ensemble at its soulful best; and, finally, the album’s alternately propulsive and stealthy coda “Cool Eyes,” yet another reminder of how welcome this discovery is.

Originally published in March 2008
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