Horace Silver

Silver 'n Percussion

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Despite what the title says, the voice is the focus of these six cuts, which act as two three-part suites -- one devoted to African tribes, the other to Native Indians of South and North America. Silver is joined by the potent horns of tenor saxophonist Larry Schneider and trumpeter Tom Harrell. Bassist Ron Carter and drummer Al Foster expertly set the rhythmic pace; percussionists M. Babatunde Olatunji, Ladji Camara, and Omar Clay swap places on the suites; and a seven-piece vocal choir sings throughout. "African Ascension" starts with a definitive "The Gods of the Yoruba," which features popping 5/4 percussion that serves as a bed for heavy modal piano chords, dense chanting, Schneider's delightfully animated solo, and a neat unison staccato coda. A 6/8 mix of driving soul-jazz and chanted vocals punctuates "The Sun Gods of the Yoruba," while a similar but darker rhythm and heavier chants bolster the hip unison chart of "The Spirit of the Zulu," which features lengthy solos by Silver and Carter. "The Great American Indian Uprising" begins with "The Idols of the Incas," which is highlighted by staccato horns and ostinato bass. "The Aztec Sun God," with its repeated chant, is counterpointed with horns, heavy tambourine, and a trumpet solo from the ever-potent Harrell, as Silver quotes "Mr. P.C." in his final statement. "The Mohican & the Great Spirit" closes the set with a 9/8 ostinato in a more breezy context, with vocals wafting over the sailing horns. Silver's best work came prior to this recording, but this may be his best work of the '70s. Even though it's a little short, at under 40 minutes, it's nonetheless recommended and, perhaps for the leader, worth a revisit.

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