We turn back the clock to 1973 for “In Pursuit of the 27th Man” by pianist Horace Silver. Recorded in two sessions at Rudy Van Gelder’s studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, it was issued by Blue Note Records in March of 1973.
“In Pursuit” was a return to form for Horace after releasing three earnest but poor-selling albums, all part of his “United States of Mind” project.
The first recording session took place on October 6, 1972. The front line included Randy Brecker on trumpet and his younger brother Michael on tenor saxophone. Randy first joined Horace’s quintet in 1969 after leaving the band Blood, Sweat and Tears, and left Horace’s employ to become a founding member of the band Dreams (as was his brother Michael). Randy and Michael became part of Horace’s band soon after Dreams disbanded and shortly before “In Pursuit” was recorded.
The second and final session on November 10, 1972, marked the first occasion Horace had recorded with a vibes player. Of the seven tracks on the album, David Friedman is featured on four of them. The Brecker Brothers are featured on the other three.
The other members of the rhythm section were part of both recording sessions: Mickey Roker (drums) and Bob Cranshaw (electric bass).
“In Pursuit” barely rates a mention in Horace’s autobiography “Let’s Get to the Nitty Gritty.” For the most in-depth info, one must turn to the liner notes he wrote which we’ve done for a couple of the tracks.
The album included two compositions not written by Horace. The first tune “Liberated Brother” was penned by the Cleveland, OH-based pianist Weldon Irvine. (Trumpeter Brian Lynch recorded an excellent version of it many years later for his Criss Cross Records release “ConClave”)
“Kathy”, the second tune was written by the Brazilian composer and performer Moacir Santos, a then-recent signee to the Blue Note artist roster. Santos recorded three albums for Blue Note between 1972 and 1975. Some of his compositions (such as “Kathy”) could easily be misconstrued as having been written by Horace himself.
Horace’s notes for “Gregory is Here” say ‘This composition is dedicated to my son Gregory who was named 6 months before he arrived. When he finally arrived there was nothing more to say but “Gregory is Here”’.
Horace describes the title tune “In Pursuit of the 27th Man” as something that could easily be heard in a chase scene in a movie. And he’s right. He goes on to say the number 27 has some significance for those who study numerology. (Bob Dorough would say it’s related to the magical number 3. But I digress.)
As for the recording itself, I’m left to wonder who was responsible for the final mix. Unlike Horace’s classic 1950s and 1960s recordings, the piano is placed front and center in the foreground and the horns are somewhat buried in the background. If the mix was the work of Rudy Van Gelder, it may have been he was spending too much time on the countless CTI label projects being recorded at his studio. Regardless of the mix, there are lots of should-be-classic Horace Silver on “In Pursuit of the 27th Man.”
To hear for yourself, tune in to Wednesday Night Beat, February 1 at 8 pm with your host Doug Crane.
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