Top Artists – Horace Silver

Horace Silver – Blowin’ The Blues Away

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  • A Must Own from Horace Silver, with the kind of sound that only the best vintage pressings can offer
  • If you don’t know Horace Silver’s music, this is a good place to start
  • Another triumph for engineering maestro Rudy Van Gelder – he refined a “live-in-the-studio” jazz sound that still sounds fresh to this day, even after 60+ years
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Blowin’ The Blues Away is one of Horace Silver’s all-time Blue Note classics, only upping the ante established on Finger Poppin’ for tightly constructed, joyfully infectious hard bop… one of Silver’s finest albums, and it’s virtually impossible to dislike.”
  • If you’re a fan of Silver’s, this 1959 album belongs in your collection, along with quite a few others, if only we could fine them
  • The complete list of titles from 1959 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

The really good RVG pressings (often on the later labels) sound shockingly close to live music — uncompressed, present, full of energy, with the instruments clearly located on a wide and often deep soundstage, surrounded by the natural space and cool air of his New Jersey studio. As our stereo has improved, and we’ve found better pressings and learned how to clean them better, his “you-are-there” live jazz sound has come to impress us more and more. (more…)

Horace Silver Quintet – The Tokyo Blues

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  • Spacious and three-dimensional, as well as relaxed and full-bodied – this pressing was a big step up over every other copy we played
  • 4 stars: “Silver’s Tokyo-influenced compositions fit right in with the subtle cross-cultural but very American hard bop he’d been doing all along… [his] compositions have a light, airy feel, with plenty of space, and no one used that space better at these sessions than Cook, whose tenor sax lines are simply wonderful, adding a sturdy, reliable brightness.”
  • Another Must Own Title from 1962. Other recommended titles from 1962 can be found here.

If you know anything about Blue Note, you know that finding a copy that plays this quietly is rare. Add to that the excellent sound and music and you have yourself a real winner with this LP! (more…)

Horace Silver – Horace-Scope

  • This superb stereo pressing boasts nearly Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
  • This shootout was years in the making – few copies survived in this kind of audiophile playing condition, and fewer still – far fewer still – sound as good as this one does (thanks RVG!), so Silver fans should get while the gettin’ is good
  • 4 stars: “…every selection is full of soulful grooves and well-honed group interplay, the qualities that made this band perhaps the top hard bop outfit of the early ’60s. Silver was in the midst of a hot streak that wouldn’t let up for another few years, and Horace-Scope is another eminently satisfying effort from that period.”

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Sonny Rollins – Vol. 2 – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  • Side two of this stereo pressing is at least Super Hot – it’s huge, rich and tubey
  • Side one is Super Hot, musical, lively, clear and real sounding
  • Another classic late ’50s RVG recording of some of the greatest Jazz Giants who ever lived
  • “…a timeless session and a milestone in jazz history that gathered together some of the founding fathers of the post-bop era.”

Even though this session was supposedly recorded in one day on April 14, 1957 we heard an anomaly that took us somewhat by surprise. The first and third track on side two sound amazing, better than anything on side one. However, the second track, You Stepped Out Of A Dream, has sound that is clearly a step down from anything else on the album. It’s smaller and more congested. Why that is we have no idea, but we felt it was worth pointing out.

Sonny’s horn on side two is especially big and rich, with huge amounts of Tubey Magic as befits an all-tube 1957 Blue Note recording. This is clearly the right sound for this music.

Note that side one is not quite as tubey but makes up for it with energy and clarity that we found conveys the music beautifully. (more…)

Horace Silver Quintet – Silver’s Serenade

  • Stunning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on both sides of this copy of The Horace Silver Quintet’s final album together
  • Only the second copy of Silver Serenade to ever hit the site, it is incredibly hard to find Silver’s records in stereo with the right stampers and good sound
  • Thanks to RVG, the sound here is wonderfully full-bodied, lively and musical with a relatively bottom end
  • 4 stars: “The band had made five previous recordings for the label, all of them successful. The program here is comprised of Silver compositions. The blowing is a meld of relaxed, soulful, and swinging hard bop, as evidenced in the title track… This is another excellent recording by the greatest Silver quintet.”

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The Horace Silver Quintet – The Cape Verdean Blues

  • The Cape Verdean Blues makes its Hot Stamper debut with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This vintage stereo LP is well balanced, big and lively, with wonderful clarity in the mids and highs, and a spacious soundfield
  • RVG in 1966 is hard to beat for you-are-there immediacy, and we guarantee this pressing delivers on that sound like no other copy you’ve ever heard, especially if all you’ve heard is the kind of vague, veiled, lifeless modern reissue that seems to be everywhere these days
  • 4 stars: “… there’s a spirit of adventure that pervades the entire album, a sense of exploration that wouldn’t have been quite the same with Silver’s quintet of old…”

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Horace Silver Quintet – Serenade To A Soul Sister

  • This copy was clearly cut with super-low distortion mastering equipment, and boy does it help the sound
  • Rudy Van Gelder did an outstanding job as usual engineering these 1968 quintet sessions, some of which include one of our favorite tenor men, Stanley Turrentine
  • 4 1/2 stars: “One of the last great Horace Silver albums for Blue Note, Serenade to a Soul Sister is also one of the pianist’s most infectiously cheerful, good-humored outings… it’s hard to argue with musical results as joyous and tightly performed as Serenade to a Soul Sister.”

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Horace Silver Quintet – The Stylings of Silver

silver

  • With superb Triple Plus (A+++) grades on side two and Double Plus (A++) sound on side one, this is one of the best copies of Silver’s 1957 classic we’ve ever heard
  • The last copy to hit the site went up in 2016 – clean Horace Silver records in stereo with the right stampers and good sound are hard to find!
  • Rich and solid, this is the kind of sound that makes us sit up and take notice – Thanks RVG, we love your work (when it sounds like this)
  • “All of Silver’s Blue Note quintet recordings are consistently superb and swinging…”

I chanced upon a clean copy of this album in a store last year. When I got home with it I found I loved the music and I loved the sound. I then went about buying them up as fast as I could, returning something on the order of half the copies I was sent: some for scratches, some for the wrong labels, some for being mono — you never know what you’re going to get when you order records online!

Except from us of course. Unless something goes terribly wrong you will always get a good sounding, reasonably quiet record from us.

RVG in ’57

The best copies are just bigger, fuller and more present than others. The sound is natural and REAL, with exceptional space and see-through transparency, something that practically no heavy vinyl modern pressing we’ve ever played can reproduce.

Classic Records remastered the album, Music Matters remastered it, and there are plenty of copies of both out there. If you have either one, do yourself a favor and order up this Hot Stamper. We’re pretty sure you will be amazed at how much more musical involvement you will find on it, involvement that will be lacking when you go back to the Heavy Vinyl LP.

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Horace Silver Quintet – Doin’ The Thing

This Minty Blue Note LP has EXCELLENT LIVE JAZZ SOUND! It’s rich, full, and tonally correct from top to bottom. Just listen to the cymbals on the track Doin’ The Thing — you’ll hear how wonderfully extended the top end is.

“This live set (recorded at the Village Gate) finds pianist/composer Horace Silver and his most acclaimed quintet (the one with trumpeter Blue Mitchell, tenor saxophonist Junior Cook, bassist Gene Taylor and drummer Roy Brooks) stretching out on four selections, including his new song Filthy McNasty… [An] enjoyable and always funky hard bop session.” (more…)

Horace Silver / Song For My Father – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

More of the Music of Horace Silver

Hot Stamper Pressings of Blue Note Albums Available Now

This is our first Hot Stamper listing for the album, and believe me, it’s not for want of trying. The best sounding original copies I had picked up over the years were far too noisy and scratched to be acceptable to audiophiles, not to mention the fact that the originals were (and are) replete with mastering issues that often exacerbate problems in the recording itself.

Trade-Offs

Having said all that, every Hot Stamper copy we found had its own mastering strengths and weaknesses — the tubey magic and fullness in the best originals isn’t really heard on the later pressings, but the later pressings have a clarity and freedom from obvious compressor and cutter-head distortion that makes them appealing in their own right, not to mention much better brass sound: more dynamic and less smeared.

Rudy, Nice Piano For a Change!

One surprising finding was how good the piano sounds on the better copies. It has good weight, real solidity, and lacks that irritating “boxy” hard sound that you find on so many RVG recordings.

Pinched horns and boxy pianos are the hallmarks of most Van Gelder recordings; how on earth this guy is considered one of the greats is beyond me [now of course we know better]. We did this shootout after having played a few Contemporaries the day before, and the difference in the quality of the sound is nothing less than shocking. The Contemporary sound is so relaxed and musical, the RVG Blue Note sound so forced and artificial.

But Contemporary never had the likes of Horace Silver in their stable of artists, and we love this music, so there was no alternative, we just had to dive in and hope for the best. And the best was pretty good!

The Best Ever

Unlike so many of the later pressings, this one has real weight, richness and fullness to the sound, with super-tight, note-like bass, and it does it without sacrificing clarity in the mids and highs. The leading edge transients on the horns were excellent, with the pinched quality of their sound you hear on some tracks kept at a minimum, and the whole of the ensemble was transparently clear. This copy was obviously cut with super-low distortion mastering equipment, and boy did it help the sound. Side two was the best side of this album we have ever played.

Side one was nearly as good at Two Pluses. We didn’t know it could get any better, and then we turned it over and went wow!

Both sides had a wonderful quality to the drums: they actually sound like hollowed out, three dimensional objects that are being made to resonate — which is kind of what they are — the opposite of the cardboard drums you hear on bad rock records, the ones that sound like somebody is slapping an old packing box.