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Thinking of Horace Silver
Sunday, July 19th, 2009
Mount Vernon, NY is fast becoming the place to be on those Sunday afternoons that "Very Truly Yours Consultants Inc." holds their monthly concert series called "Sunday Serenades". July 19th 2009 was a beautiful Sunday in Westchester County and once again the Bassline was hosting another one of those "Sunday Serenades" this one dedicated to Horace Silver. Five very talented artists strolled into the Bassline that afternoon to take part in this tribute. Drummer Steve Johns, bassist Santi Debriano, pianist Donald Vega, tenor saxophonist Bobby LaVell and trumpeter Bruce Harris were the perfect ingredients to what was going to take place live at the Bassline. This was a tribute to a gentleman that all these extraordinary musicians grew up listening to and all know that Horace Silver is one of the brightest stars that this music has. How nice is it that while someone who is still around that a tribute be paid to him. Upon entering the Bassline that afternoon you could feel that something very special was about to take place and ladies and gentleman it was the perfect complement to the beautiful weather outside. "Thinking of Horace Silver" as the concert was called had no one inside thinking about the beautiful weather outside they were missing, but what all those people outside were missing this afternoon inside the Bassline.

A nice crowd of hard core Jazz devotees started to arrive early and one could feel they were looking forward to what was about to take place. The first tune was "Filthy Mac Nasty" and you could feel immediately the chemistry that each musician had for one another. Bruce took the first solo and it was very obvious that he came prepared to have some fun. Bobby took the next solo and you could hear that the guy had that sound that was going to make for a very interesting combination on that front line. Donald Vega followed with a solo that had Horace Silver written all over it. After Donald's solo you knew immediately "Very Truly Yours" had the right cat on piano for this tribute. Santi Debriano's solo was fantastic and after trading some licks the ensemble took it out while the audience cheered with their approval. The next tune was another Horace Silver original "Strollin". This featured Bruce Harris on flugelhorn. I still find it very hard to believe that someone so young can have the chops that he has. Talk about some chops, Donald Vega is another cat even though he is a little older than Bruce he definitely has an amazing technique on the piano. "This I Dig Of You" followed "Strollin" and featured an amazing bow solo by Santi Debriano. I must admit that each and every solo taken by each member of this quintet was more amazing than the previous solo. It's very seldom that you find a musical chemistry that was exhibited by this band. What makes it even more amazing they had roughly an hour together to go over the music that was going to be performed. The next piece was the beautiful Horace Silver composition "Peace". This featured a fantastic solo by Donald Vega. Listening to Donald on this piece I immediately felt the sensitivity of Bill Evans. The first set closed with "Quick Silver". I immediately reflected on the original Birdland recording that Bruce had made reference of with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers with Horace on piano. That recording had Clifford Brown and Lou Donaldson on the front line. This was one swinging way to take you to intermission, but it also made you wonder, what could they do to follow up on such a fabulous first set?

Well, it didn't take long to find out that this band had a lot more left in their arsenal when they opened the second set with a monster version of "Nica's Dream". As I looked around the room I saw people smiling and slipping one another five. Kevin Prendergast who does our video work had a smile from ear to ear while doing some fancy footwork. Thank goodness the camera was on a tripod. There was such a great feeling on "Nica's Dream" that while playing the head Santi was dancing while laying down some wonderful lines for the front line to do whatever they wanted because Santi had it covered. Bobby took the first solo before giving way to Bruce, but the guy that left his mark was Donald Vega. Donald's solo had bits of a Latin tinge that had everyone on the bandstand as well as the audience smiling with their approval. Santi solo followed and was nothing less than spectacular. In all the years of listening to Santi Debriano I have never heard him sound as wonderful as he sounds now. Bobby, Bruce and Steve traded fours before taking it out before a delighted and enthusiastic audience. The next tune was the "The Preacher". I personally felt the solo that Bobby LeVell took on this tune was his best of the afternoon. You could feel he really got into this one. They followed "The Preacher" with "Song For My Father". Santi and Donald did a beautiful intro before Bruce and Bobby got into the head. You could see they were really going to have some fun with this tune. Donald's solo was all Horace and he turned it inside out. After Donald finished his solo there was a gentleman sitting to the right of stage that leaped out of his seat with his arms fully extended straight to the sky like a football referee signaling a touchdown. He then turned to his friend who was still seated and slipped him five before sitting down with a big smile on his face. This music will do that to you if you feel it and feel it he did. The final tune of the afternoon was "Room 608". As Bruce mentioned it was a room number of a hotel on 27th St. and 7th Avenue that Horace use to stay at years ago. This featured a marvelous solo by Steve Johns. It was so fitting to have Steve stretch out before the group took it out in great fashion.

After that last tune you saw five wonderfully gifted musicians smiling and shaking hands with one another like to say "man this was fun". Let me tell you it was big fun and many members of this enthusiastic audience came on stage to let them know how much they enjoyed the afternoon. It was a wonderful afternoon spent celebrating the music of Horace Ward Martin Tavares Silver. Like the program said "There is only one".
- Arnie Perez
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