Recorded at the 1976 Umbria Jazz Festival, this rare Silver footage features what many believe to be Horace's best front line (Harrell/Berg) and the leader at the peak of his form.
For Horace, the 70s were a decade of uncertainty and experimentation. Both Blue Note (his record label) and his family situation were going thru difficult phases. Horace had thrown in the towel on living in NYC a few years earlier after a disheartening burglary. Yet many (including me) view his mid-70s output as his best, combining new textures and harmonics with challenging and varied settings. Watch how he physically attacks the piano here and his unconventional fingering.
The performances are very fine (one wishes for many more than 52 minutes) and are representative of what happens at Umbria, based on my personal experience. Horace locks into Beskrone and Gladden in a powerful fashion and gives Berg some freedoms he rarely gave other tenors (some trimmings/noodlings here and there). Berg really walks the walk on this performance; you can see his brimming confidence. He'll be missed.
Technically, the images and audio are good. The audience cut-ins are amateurish, with repeated use of the same reaction clip. But it's fun to see Art Blakey (the Messengers would take the stage next; see elsewhere on Amazon) setting up his kit about 10 feet away right smack dab in the middle of Horace's performance. Wonder what Horace thought about that? Will someone ever figure out what happened between those two? For that matter, will someone begin a biography of Horace now, before we lose him? He's one of the last, you know.
Turns out that the Horace Silver Quintet played two shows at the 1976 Umbria Jazz Festival, one on July 20th in Orvieto (this one) and a completely different program the next day in Gubbio. The group played tunes like The Sophisticated Hippie and Brain Wave. The complete show can be found streaming at http://stream.radiorvietoweb.it/