song for horace

| June 23, 2014
Horace Silver dies_ pianist and composer helped define hard-bop jazz - The Washington Post 2014-06-19 23-03-32

Horace Silver

© 2014, omowale-ketu oladuwa


preamble ~ they got so sophisticated that it seemed like they were afraid to play the blues, like it was demeaning to be funky. and i tried to bring that. i didn’t do it consciously at first. but it started to happen.

—horace silver, 1994, newsday interview  


if there was ever a man who was generous, gracious and good,

that was my dad, the man . . .

—song for my father, horace silver, music;

leon thomas, lyrics


was there a time when your smile hid, horace?

a place where the smile lines framing your gentle mouth ~ crinkling the corner of your eye went missing?  it’s hard to see eyes w/o the smile of you boppin’



boppin’ ~ head swaying

at the tip of your fingers’ dancing stroke

hammer-feathering keys.

the black and white of it.  the all-american music of it.

the muscular blues.  the simple jazz.


the sweet piano music rushing from your soul

seer(d) the where of us, of our movement

thru this time of reckoning

of age coming on up into grownfolk business.


you burst

outta the eisenhower years ~ a korean war

manifest dumping ground of world war ii vets


who’d had enuf and wasn’t ‘bout to take

no mo’ shit.


the sister sadie juicy lucy urban blue-gospel-bebop

dizzy licks liting fires under feet

that had to dance

to blakey-silver jazz messenger music

despite boplicity.


the tempo-tempered tones —birth of cool

modern classical formation

reconstituting our usness

to a shed-no-tear for centuries downpressed

suburban ‘50s ready to forget us.

we knotted

not ready to be forgot.


so you composed

the natives was restless tonite: reminded us

you was blowin’ the blues away.

and we believed you as you rolled out

the preacher, sanctimonius sam, and filthy mcnasty.

folk we all knew.


we re-membered plow and mule

~ the jimcrow angst lynchings outta season ~

plantation stolen labor and acres we never got.


we be the funk come north, senor blues, come

to where you always been

straight outta norwalk to new rochelle

by way of harlem,

by way of your daddy’s cape verdean

rhythms.  song for my father signature of a young man come

to season reason


doing the thing, with

our dodgers still in ebbets field, and

say hey kid basket-catching flyballs in the polo grounds.


you was the re-ligion we needed, horace

the tieback to titer times, leanin’ on one another

making a way thru the integrated firestorm

vexating spirit.  the social mixup

loss of identity.


brother said he caught you at the gate

in the village ~ 1961

with blue mitchell spittin’ trumpet, junior cook’s sweet sax

and that phat taylor-brooks rhythm section.


me was underage, couldn’t be there

but sure heard ‘bout it.


i gotta thank you for all you left, horace

cause i still be listenin’

feet tappin’, head swayin’,


and the kicker

i be still grounded in the tradition ~ learnin’ . . .

Tags: , ,

Category: Entertainment, National

About the Author ()

Frost Illustrated is Fort Wayne's oldest weekly newspaper. Your Independent Voice in the Community, featuring news & views of African Americans since 1968.

Comments are closed.