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Let's Get to the Nitty Gritty: The Autobiography of Horace Silver
Synopses & Reviews
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 and#147;after the roadand#8221; 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, Silverand#8217;s narrativeand#151;like his musicand#151;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, Silverand#8217;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.
Letand#8217;s Get to the Nitty Gritty also describes Silverand#8217;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.
"Silver's contributions as pianist, producer, bandleader, composer and lyricist have catapulted him into the pantheon of jazz legends. Finding an 'inner source of inspiration' for his music in dreams, tea kettle whistles, cricket chirps and the spirit world, Silver is an innovator whose musical influences include the blues as well as gospel, Latin, symphonic, Broadway shows and folk music. Painting a colorful backdrop of the jazz scene over six decades, Silver reveals the events behind songs like 'Seor Blues' and 'Song for My Father' as he traces his musical development from his youth in Norwalk, Conn. Following gigs in high school, he toured with Stan Getz, arriving in New York to team with top talents on club dates, recording sessions and radio broadcasts. In 1952, he began a 28-year association with Blue Note Records and then ran Silveto, his own independent record label, during the 1980s. Silver, now 78, has an astonishing recall of every musician he ever encountered, prompting plenty of anecdotes amid the solid self-insights. The critical afterword by Pastras (Dead Man Blues) analyzes Silver's 'steadfast refusal to let a groove become a rut.' 17 b&w photos not seen by PW." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"As one of the major figures in the history of jazz, Horace Silver's reminiscences are priceless. Simply put, the man is a national treasure. Horace's sensitivity, passions and creative sources emerge in this engaging book, a tribute to his determination and to Phil Pastras' skill and sensitivity as an editor. It will be celebrated by jazz scholars and fans everywhere."and#151;Steven Isoardi, author of The Dark Tree and Central Avenue Sounds
"Horace Silver stands as one of the last 'jazz giants' remaining from the incredible efflorescence of bebop-based music in the 1950s. For that reason alone his book would be an important contribution. But this is more than a mere memoir of a golden age long past. Silver's prose style is much like his musical style: earthy, vernacular, populist. His unique take on the music and the people who play it provides valuable insights into the creative processes of jazz and the social and cultural worlds in which jazz musicians live and work. His recounts of the lessons learned from listening to and playing alongside Art Blakey, Charlie Parker, Jimmie Lunceford, and Lester Young, as well as many lesser-known figures, are particularly revealing."and#151;David Ake, author of Jazz Cultures
The life of jazz great Horace Silver, as told by Horace Silver.
About the Author
Horace Silver was born in Norwalk, Connecticut in 1928. He now lives in Malibu, California. Phil Pastras is Assistant Professor of English at Pasadena City College and author of Dead Man Blues: Jelly Roll Morton Way Out West (California, 2002).
Table of Contents
foreword Joe Zawinul
chapter one Childhood
chapter two Dreaming My Dreams: Teenage Years
chapter three Lady Music and the Messengers: Early Adult Years
chapter four The Quintet
chapter five Westward Bound: Middle Years
chapter six Off the Merry-Go-Round: Later Years
afterword Phil Pastras
discography Eric B. Olsen
recordings honoring Horace Silver
a select bibliography of music publications
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