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Ran Blake: Horace Is Blue: A Silver Noir

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Even though Horace Silver has always shown a predilection for somewhat unusual structures, his pieces are generally designed as blowing vehicles and it would be hard to find an aspiring jazzer who hasn’t worked out on “Song For My Father,” “The Preacher,” Senor Blues” or some other piece of Silver. It takes a real individualist to make such well-known material sound new, but Ran Blake certainly fills the bill on the excellent Horace Is Blue. He rethinks, reharmonizes and drastically revoices the music to suit a unique trio, or parts thereof, featuring his piano, guitarist David Fabris and altoist James Merenda. The program includes familiar and unfamiliar titles, some of which are used as points for radical departure. Others are interpreted with the original versions plainly in mind, but even here, the approach is anything but obvious; Fabris is particularly adept at reinterpreting the bluesy Silver feeling. The guitarist works so well with Blake that one wonders if he could ever play with a “normal” pianist again. Here’s hoping he’ll never have to: the dangerous piano-guitar combination has rarely worked as well as it does with these two. Merenda is also a fine player who adds just the right touch.