Horace Silver Quintet – The Tokyo Blues – Reviewed in 2009

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This QUIET Blue Note ’70s issue LP has a PHENOMENAL SIDE ONE and a GREAT SIDE TWO! It’s one of the better sounding Blue Notes we’ve heard over the last few months.

I’ve played quite a few of these over the years and I’ve NEVER heard a side one this good. (We did hear a slightly better side two earlier this year.) The sound is full-bodied and shockingly transparent with real depth to the soundfield. The brass has a nice bite and the piano sound is superb — you can very clearly hear the sound of the little hammers hitting the strings inside! Piano jazz almost never sounds this good.

Side two is very transparent with lots of ambience, but not quite as good as side one. The piano sounds excellent, but there’s a touch of grit and grain at times that doesn’t show up on side one.

We sometimes prefer the sound on the later Blue Note issues to the sound of the New York and Liberty label pressings. Modern cutting equipment allows for improved clarity, more weight to the bottom, and less grit and grain up top.

Of course, many of the later pressings are just plain awful, and some originals are mindblowingly good. If there was an easier way to know what copies sounded good than cleaning them and playing them, our work would be a heckuva lot easier.

I wish we could find more copies of Song For My Father that sounded this good!

TRACK LISTING

Too Much Shake
Sayonara Blues
The Tokyo Blues
Cherry Blossom
Ah! So

AMG 4 Star Rave Review!

For Tokyo Blues, Joe Harris (listed as John Harris, Jr.) is in Brooks place. The quintet performs four Silver originals (best known is the title cut) plus Ronnell Bright’s obscure ballad “Cherry Blossom,” which is well worth reviving. Although the five songs are dedicated to Japan and the Orient, this is nothing inherently Asian about the music; it is a typically funky Horace Silver hard bop date, and one of his many recommended Blue Note sets.