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Horace Silver: The Tokyo Blues

On this CD, cut in 1962 after a happy trip to Japan, it was Silver’s intention to write some compositions combining “traditional Japanese feeling in the melodies with Latin feeling in the rhythms.” Four of the album’s pieces were composed by him, another, the pretty ballad “Cherry Blossom,” by Ronnell Bright.

The group includes trumpeter Blue Mitchell, tenorman Junior Cook, bassist Gene Taylor and drummer John Harris.

Whatever motivated Horace, his four originals sure are attractive and good vehicles to improvise on. The underappreciated Cook solos thoughtfully and melodically, as does Mitchell, among the finest post-bop trumpeters. Sometimes thought to have been influenced by Clifford Brown, Mitchell was actually a parallel figure who drew on similar sources. Blue had already evolved a pretty distinctive style by 1952, as his work with Lou Donaldson in that year indicates, at a time when Brown was virtually unknown.

Horace solos with a nice combination of restraint, lyricism and funk.

Originally Published