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Let’s Get to the Nitty Gritty: The Autobiography of Horace Silver by Horace Silver/Phil Pastras, editor

Excerpted in the April 2006 issue of JazzTimes, this autobiography of pianist/bandleader/ composer Horace Silver contains some excellent primary source material on the genesis of modern jazz. Silver’s founding of the Jazz Messengers and his influential recordings for Blue Note ensure his special place in jazz history. Unfortunately, as with many autobiographies, some periods are more interesting than others. Silver has some entertaining stories about working with Miles Davis, Art Blakey, Oscar Pettiford and other jazz greats. During the ’50s when bebop and drug abuse went hand in hand, Silver was a veritable paragon of clean living, and that disparity helps to explain his professional disconnect from many of the players of that period. After his family’s apartment was burglarized, Silver moved to California in 1974 and essentially left behind the vibrant New York jazz scene.

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