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Greg Abate: Horace is Here

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Saxophonist Greg Abate, best known for his alto work but also a fine player on the other horns, including baritone, has been a hard-bop disciple for more than three decades. So it was only natural that he’d focus a complete project on paying tribute to one of that genre’s pioneers. Abate tackles eight Horace Silver tunes and intersperses two originals-the title track and “On the Road”-written and performed in the same funky, playful style associated with Silver.

The leader had some very strong and empathetic allies on this 2004 session: trumpeter Claudio Roditi, now-deceased pianist Hilton Ruiz and two Boston/Providence jazz stalwarts, drummer Artie Cabral and bassist Marshall Wood (the latter is currently a member of Tony Bennett’s quartet).

Horace opens with the playful “Mayreh,” a Silver tune first recorded in 1954 on Art Blakey’s A Night at Birdland. Ruiz grabs the spotlight on “Horace Is Here” and “On the Road.” The depth of their performances on “Nica’s Dream” showcases Abate’s longstanding sense of simpatico with Roditi, and that synergy is evident throughout the disc. Silver’s ballad “Peace” gets a deep and thorough examination, with Wood setting a ponderous, droning tone before Abate (on soprano) and Roditi dig deep into its melodic possibilities, hitting their bop stride midway into the anthemic tune.

Horace Is Here remains true to the spirit of Silver’s music and musical legacy, yet imbues the songs with fresh energy. First released in 2005 on the Koko Jazz label, this reissue should give the album the attention it so richly deserves.

Originally Published