January - February 2021
Stanley Clarke -- Horace Silver
Disclaimer: I do not own the music. All rights go to their respective owners.
Stanley Clarke is an American bassist, film composer and founding member of Return to Forever, one of the first jazz fusion bands. Clarke gave the bass guitar a prominence it lacked in jazz-related music. He is the first jazz-fusion bassist to headline tours, sell out shows worldwide and have recordings reach gold status. His mother sang opera around the house, belonged to a church choir, and encouraged him to study music. He started on accordion, then tried violin. But he felt awkward holding such a small instrument in his big hands when he was twelve years old and over six feet tall. No one wanted the acoustic bass in the corner, so he picked it up. He took lessons on double bass at the Settlement Music School in Philadelphia, beginning with five years of classical music. He picked up bass guitar in his teens so that he could perform at parties and imitate the rock and pop bands that girls liked. Clarke attended the Philadelphia Musical Academy (later known as the Philadelphia College of the Performing Arts, and ultimately as the University of the Arts, after a merge with the Philadelphia College of Art) and after graduating moved to New York City in 1971. His recording debut was with Curtis Fuller. He worked with Joe Henderson and Pharoah Sanders, then in 1972 with Stan Getz, Dexter Gordon, and Art Blakey, followed by Gil Evans, Mel Lewis, and Horace Silver. Clarke intended to become the first black musician in the Philadelphia Orchestra until he met jazz pianist Chick Corea. In 1973, he and Corea founded the band Return to Forever. The first edition of Return to Forever performed primarily Latin-oriented music. This band consisted of singer Flora Purim, her husband Airto Moreira (both Brazilians) on drums and percussion, Corea's longtime musical co-worker Joe Farrell on saxophone and flute, and Clarke on bass. Their first album, titled Return to Forever, was recorded for ECM Records in 1972. Their second album, Light as a Feather (1973), was released by Polydor and included the song "Spain". Clarke has spent much of his career outside jazz. In 1979, Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones formed the New Barbarians with Clarke and Keith Richards. Two years later, Clarke and keyboardist George Duke formed the Clarke/Duke Project, which combined pop, jazz, funk, and R&B. They met in 1971 in Finland when Duke was with Cannonball Adderley. They recorded together for the first time on Clarke's album Journey to Love. Their first album contained the single "Sweet Baby", which became a Top 20 pop hit. They reunited for tours during the 1990s and the 2000s.
Horace Ward Martin Tavares Silver was an American jazz pianist, composer, and arranger, particularly in the hard bop style that he helped pioneer in the 1950s. After playing tenor saxophone and piano at school in Connecticut, Silver got his break on piano when his trio was recruited by Stan Getz in 1950. Silver soon moved to New York City, where he developed a reputation as a composer and for his bluesy playing. Frequent sideman recordings in the mid-1950s helped further, but it was his work with the Jazz Messengers, co-led by Art Blakey, that brought both his writing and playing most attention. Their Horace Silver and the Jazz Messengers album contained Silver's first hit, "The Preacher". After leaving Blakey in 1956, Silver formed his own quintet, with what became the standard small group line-up of tenor saxophone, trumpet, piano, bass, and drums. Their public performances and frequent recordings for Blue Note Records increased Silver's popularity, even through changes of personnel. His most successful album was Song for My Father, made with two iterations of the quintet in 1963 and 1964. Silver was also busy recording as a sideman. In 1953, he was pianist on sessions led by Sonny Stitt, Howard McGhee, and Al Cohn, and, the following year, he played on albums by Art Farmer, Miles Davis, Milt Jackson and others. Silver won the Down Beat critics' new star award for piano players in 1954, and appeared at the first Newport Jazz Festival, substituting for John Lewis in the Modern Jazz Quartet. Silver's early 1950s recordings demonstrate that Powell was a major pianistic influence, but this had waned by the middle of the decade. In New York, Silver and Blakey co-founded the Jazz Messengers, a cooperatively-run group that initially recorded under various leaders and names. Their first two studio recordings, with Hank Mobley on tenor saxophone, Kenny Dorham on trumpet, and Doug Watkins on bass, were made in late 1954 and early 1955 and were released as two 10-inch albums under Silver's name, then soon thereafter as the 12-inch Horace Silver and the Jazz Messengers. This album contained Silver's first hit, "The Preacher". Unusually in Silver's career, recordings of concert performances were also released at this time, involving quintets at Birdland (1954) and the Café Bohemia (1955). This set of studio and concert recordings was pivotal in the development and defining of hard bop, which combined elements of blues,