As a pianist this album has been a very big influence on me. Horace Silver’s Song for My Father was not just a classic, grooving, hard bop album. It showed me that you didn’t need running eight note lines to have a good solo, it showed me that a composition with only a few horns can still give you the feeling a big band does, and it showed me to use all the influences available to me. As a latino Jazz musician at first I tended to shy away from anything latin. I didn’t want to come off as a cliche latin Jazz musician, so I steered away from learning any Jazz standards that would fall vaguely under that category. Even if they were classics like Blue Bossa, The Girl from Ipanema, and St. Thomas. Listening to Song For My Father made me realize that not only should I learn and play latin tunes, but I actually enjoyed them and it was very ignorant of me to ignore a whole genre at the risk of being predictable. This album helped me face issues I had with my cultural identity and helped me grow not only as a musician, but as a person.
“Song For My Father” begins with a Bossa Nova groove, the drums come directly after, and then Carl Jones on trumpet and Joe Henderson on the tenor play the head in harmony. Horace Silver has the first solo which is a great example of what I mentioned earlier, few notes but they all fit with the rhythm section so beautifully. It’s impossible to listen to this song and not tap your feet and groove along. Horace does a fantastic job adding harmony to his solo using chords along with his melodic lines. After Horace Silver’s solo comes Joe Henderson’s solo on tenor sax. Wow! What energy! It begins with just a few notes but picks up after the first break. Then Horace begins to accompany Henderson with louder more percussive chords the rhythm section overall feeds off of Henderson’s solo as he hits some high notes and adds a bluesy feel to the song. Again impossible not to tap your feet the song has a fantastic head that can stay in your head all day long. That’s the beauty of a Horace Silver composition he puts just the right number of notes in place and it resonates and stays with you long after the track is over.
After “Song For My Father” the album takes it up a notch with “The Naives Are Restless Tonight” as the title implies the track is fast and feels hectic, but in a good way. Great hits by the drummer and the pianist only strength the melody. The solos maintain a high fast paced energy and the song just flows with this kind of anger and aggression throughout. Lots of Be bop lines in the solos which is not shocking, but still worth noting. The song also has a nice bass solo which is sort of used to ease the tension and energy this song has built. It is followed by a drum solo and then we are back to the head. Honestly every song on this album contributes something unique that the album would be missing had even one song been left out. “Calcutta Cutie” has a lot of dissonance and lots of use of the whole tone scale throughout the solos. “The Kicker” gives us a uptempo swing standard and the only song not written by Horace Silver, it was written by Joe Henderson. And “Lonely Woman” gives us a ballad which is an unexpected departure from the rest of the album. All these songs make an impact and flow seamlessly until the end making a classic album that is a must for any fan of Jazz.
Overall, Song For My Father is a classic Jazz album whose impact is still felt today with the title track and “The Kicker” being two recognized Jazz standards. Throughout the album it is really amazing listening to the different style of music Horace incorporates in his music. The big band sound he accomplishes with a few horns, the blues riffs in the solos, and the latin groove on many of the tracks. His ability to maximize his ability is also impressive, he may not play the fastest, or be the most technically sound, but he knows where to place the right notes and he uses silence just as much as he uses sound. Many young and even experienced musicians never understand that. At it’s core, music evokes emotion. Who cares who can play the fastest or the most complex charts? The point is to get our ideas out there to the world and hopefully, to some extent, they can relate. They hear what we are trying to say and we have enhanced and introduced something new, something they were lacking in their musical archives prior to our existence. With Song For My Father Horace Silver accomplished just that for me. So I thank you Mr. Silver for showing me to incorporate all my influences into my music and for making such an amazing record that has stood the test of time and continues to teach me something new every time I listen to it.