Horace Silver's Rockin' With Rachmaninoff was originally conceived as a stage musical, complete with singers, dancers, musicians, and a narrator to tell the story of the composer's idea of Duke Ellington introducing Sergei Rachmaninoff to all the jazz greats in heaven. Though it was only performed a few times during a short run in 1989 at the Barnesdale Theatre in Hollywood, Silver had the foresight to record selections from it two years later, though it would be a dozen additional years before this music became available commercially, released by Bop City. "Rocky's Overture" is a solid opener, featuring the leader and trombonist Andy Martin, while "Rocky Meets the Duke" is a blend of Silver's readily identifiable style of hard bop with the swinging feeling of Ellington. "Satchmo's Song" is a warm waltz sung with gusto by Dawn Burnett, followed by a spirited Michael Mossman trumpet solo. Andy Bey, a favorite of numerous musicians, is featured in several selections, but pays a warm tribute to tenor sax great Coleman Hawkins in "A Ballad for Hawk." Although it is an instrumental, there's no missing the spiritual influence in the driving "Hallelujah to Ya," which has brilliant solos by tenor saxophonist Rickey Woodard and Mossman, as well as the composer. If this CD is any indication as to the quality of Horace Silver's short-lived musical, it must have been one hell of a show; too bad it wasn't videotaped.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden