Let's Get to the Nitty Gritty: The Autobiography of Horace Silver

Let's Get to the Nitty Gritty: The Autobiography of Horace Silver

Horace Silver

Language: English

Pages: 282

ISBN: 0520253922

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Let's Get to the Nitty Gritty: The Autobiography of Horace Silver

Horace Silver

Language: English

Pages: 282

ISBN: 0520253922

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Horace Silver is one of the last giants remaining from the incredible flowering and creative extension of bebop music that became known as "hard bop" in the 1950s. This freewheeling autobiography of the great composer, pianist, and bandleader takes us from his childhood in Norwalk, Connecticut, through his rise to fame as a musician in New York, to his comfortable life “after the road” in California. During that time, Silver composed an impressive repertoire of tunes that have become standards and recorded a number of classic albums. Well-seasoned with anecdotes about the music, the musicians, and the milieu in which he worked and prospered, Silver’s narrative—like his music—is earthy, vernacular, and intimate. His stories resonate with lessons learned from hearing and playing alongside such legends as Art Blakey, Charlie Parker, and Lester Young. His irrepressible sense of humor combined with his distinctive spirituality make his account both entertaining and inspiring. Most importantly, Silver’s unique take on the music and the people who play it opens a window onto the creative process of jazz and the social and cultural worlds in which it flourishes.

Let’s Get to the Nitty Gritty also describes Silver’s spiritual awakening in the late 1970s. This transformation found its expression in the electronic and vocal music of the three-part work called The United States of Mind and eventually led the musician to start his own record label, Silveto. Silver details the economic forces that eventually persuaded him to put Silveto to rest and to return to the studios of major jazz recording labels like Columbia, Impulse, and Verve, where he continued expanding his catalogue of new compositions and recordings that are at least as impressive as his earlier work.

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started to rehearse the music. We made a couple of takes, but Miles wasn’t satisfied with the way it was coming oª. So he told everybody to put the music aside, and we proceeded to jam two blues tunes. One was “Blue ’n Boogie” and the other was “Walkin’,” which became a classic. We did two takes on “Blue ’n Boogie” and one take on “Walkin’,” and that was it. Working with Kenny Clarke was a unique experience. When I played with Art Blakey, I had to play very hard because Art played so hard and full

Music and the Messengers started to play. Tatum yelled out from the bathroom, “Hey, fourth finger on that B-flat.” There are geniuses and then there are super-geniuses. We’ve had many geniuses in the jazz world, but I believe that Art Tatum and Charlie Parker were super-geniuses. doug watkins and i were good friends. We hung out together. One week when the Jazz Messengers were playing at the Cafe Bohemia in Greenwich Village, we met two fine brown-skinned young ladies from Florida. He hit on one,

said, “Yeah.” He turned out all the lights and bent over and struck a match. He held it a few inches from his butt and farted. A blue flame shot out across the room. He turned the lights on, and the three of us had a good laugh. He cautioned us that if we were to try this, we should be very careful not to hold the match too close to our butt or we could burn our butt hole. This goes to prove that gas is flammable no matter where it comes from. What a great scientific discovery! philadelphia was a

Los Angeles, and he told me some interesting stories. Back in the 1930s, someone had brought a piano player to him in the hope that Albert would record him. The piano player happened to be Art Tatum, who was unknown at that time. Albert asked the man how much money he wanted. The man said ten dollars per tune. Albert said no problem. About ten years later, Albert was about to record Stuª Smith and his combo. The day before the session, Albert attended one of Stuª ’s rehearsals. Stuª wanted Albert

Merry-Go-Round / 161 Room to catch Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis. We stayed through two shows. I dropped her oª at her motel and proceeded to drive home to Rancho Palos Verdes. On the freeway, I became very sleepy. I could hardly keep my eyes open. I rolled down the window to get some air, but it was a fight to stay awake. I should have pulled over and taken a nap, but I kept thinking I could make it. About three blocks from my apartment building, I fell asleep at the wheel. The car went out of

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