It’s time to shine the Vinyl Spotlight! Every now and then on Paloozapalooza, I like to focus on a random LP from my collection. This week, we have:
Horace Silver – Blowin’ the Blues Away (1959)
Like a lot of jazz fans, the first Horace Silver record I heard from beginning to end was 1964’s Songs for My Father. It’s a masterpiece, no doubt, but I think Blowin’ the Blues Away from 1959 might be just as good. And after playing the CD to death over the last several years, I finally secured a copy on vinyl just a few weeks ago. Happy day! It isn’t an original pressing—it’s from the 80s, actually—but that’s alright. I’ll take what I can get (and afford).
Blowin’ the Blues Away kicks off with the title track, a hard-hitting bop tune that finds Blue Mitchell (trumpet) and Junior Cook (saxophone) going full speed right out of the gate. Silver still leads the show, of course, and he does get in one hell of a solo, but the spotlight still primarily stays on Mitchell and Cook. The second track, “The St. Vitus Dance,” is another highlight, this one recorded just as a trio without Mitchell or Cook. Drummer Louis Hayes stands out here, keeping rhythm with plenty of power as Silver absolutely goes to town. I’ve been listening to a lot of Silver trio recordings lately, many from the early 50s with Art Blakey on drums, and “The St. Vitus Dance” is as good as any of them.
And then, of course, there’s “Peace,” the fantastic ballad that went on to become a popular standard. Silver would eventually write lyrics for “Peace,” but that was still several years down the road in 1959. Here, in its original form, it’s downright moving. And I swear, there’s one melody near the start that sounds exactly like “The Christmas Song.” (Listen for yourselves, please … you hear it, right? Am I going insane?)
As is the case with most Blue Note albums from the late 50s and early 60s, every single song on Blowin’ the Blues Away is outstanding, with Horace and his crew in prime form. “Baghdad Blues” brings back the energy of the title track, and “Melancholy Mood” is another warm, wonderful ballad. One last number that really stands out, though, is “Sister Sadie,” which went on to be a popular standard just like “Peace.” Ray Charles was fond of playing “Sister Sadie” and it’s easy to see why. The song is both bold and playful, with a memorable melody that makes you want to get up and move. The solos on “Sister Sadie” are all strong, but I do think Cook won the day.
Overall, Blowin’ the Blues Away is about as good as I’ve ever heard a Silver-led group sound. Songs for My Father might be the one he’s most remembered for, but this one is about as good as Blue Note jazz gets. And dig that slick cover art! Yet another reason I’m glad to finally own it on LP.
Listen below …