Horace Silver Quintet - "6 Pieces Of Silver"

Horace Silver • 6 Pieces Of Silver • 1957 • Blue Note Records BLP 1539
Recorded November 10, 1956 at Rudy Van Gelder Studio, New Jersey

The Players:
Horace Silver - Piano
Hank Mobley - Tenor Saxophone
Donald Byrd - Trumpet
Doug Watkins - Bass
Louis Hayes - Drums

The Tracks:
A1. Cool Eyes
A2. Shirl
A3. Camouflage
A4. Enchantment
B1. Señor Blues
B2. Virgo Blues
B3. For Heaven's Sake

The Music:

This album is an early hard bop lovers dream, with Horace Silver leading a group that includes Hank Mobley and Donald Byrd, two fellow musicians who also helped shape the sound of Blue Note heading into the next decade. Silver is often cited as one of the originators of the hard bop style, and listening to this early recording it is easy to see why. His playing is prominently featured in the mix and is funky, bluesy and full of a spirit that would soon take over the genre. At this point the music is still rooted a bit in bop, which is not surprising, but all the players can clearly see the direction they want to go and they are all more than capable of getting there. Mobley, my favorite tenor player, is in great form, with that smooth and smokey tone that will be familiar to those who know his early work for the label. Byrd is as solid as ever, this guy never seemed to falter, especially as a sideman on the many classic sessions he sat in on. 

The album contains two of Silver's classic compositions, "Cool Eyes" and "Señor Blues," both of which remain standards to this day. It is worth noting that with the exception of the jazz standard "For Heaven's Sake," all the tunes are written by Silver, showing off just how strong a composer he was this early in his career. From this standpoint, it is hardly surprising how many classic songs he wrote and how important he was to the "golden age" of jazz. Go to just about any jazz club and if you hang around long enough there is a great chance you'll hear one of his compositions. A mighty legacy indeed.

The Vinyl:

I picked this copy up a couple years back at one of my favorite out-of-town record stores. The vinyl is not in great shape, but it is a heavy Deep Groove mono pressing, and still sounds loud with tons of depth (even with the cracks and pops), and for the $30 asking price I couldn't pass it up.

This pressing is one of those Blue Note oddities from the time period with the "47 West 63rd" (no "Inc.") label on Side 1 and the "New York USA" label on Side 2, and finally the "47 West 63rd" (with the "Inc" this time) address on the back cover. To sum all that up for those that don't obsess over Blue Note pressings: Side 1 label is from 1957-1959, Side 2 label is from 1962-1966 and the cover is from somewhere between 1959-1962. I suppose that puts this pressing right around 1962 or 1963 (maybe a 3rd or 4th pressing), but there really is no way to know for sure. The important part is it is a mono Deep Groove and sounds great, so we will leave any exactness over the pressing date to the jazz gods.

The cover is in decent shape, with no significant damage to the cover image and no noticeable ring wear. If this cover doesn't qualify as one of the classic Blue Note covers from the 1950's, then I'm not sure which one's would. 

A similar copy, right down to the exact same alternating labels, recently sold on eBay for $41.00 before shipping, so copies of this vintage are to be had for easily under $100.

 Horace Silver