Organist Shirley Scott recorded seven albums in 1961— most of them the usual organ-trio suspects for Prestige: blues intermingled with standards plus a couple of dates with new husband and tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine. But in November, Scott deviated from the norm for one date—Shirley Scott Plays Horace Silver, with Henry Grimes on bass and Otis "Candy" Finch on drums.
The session seems as though it was of her choosing and even insistence, since she recorded Hip Twist with Turrentine on the same day, returning to the blues-and-standards factory floor. One has to assume Scott was motivated by the release of Silver's Doin' the Thing, his quintet's live recording at New York's Village Gate in May 1961 that, according to Billboard, was out by September.
Scott's playing on the album is blistering all the way through. And plenty funky. Scott works Silver's lines over and over and over, creating swirling and hypnotic grooves. The tracks are Senor Blues, Moon Ray, Sister Sadie, Doodlin', The Preacher and Strollin'. Each rendition is more on fire than the last, proving that Scott, when left to her own choices, was an even bigger and more soulful creative force than is evidenced on her more famous releases.
Here, Scott isn't just a swinger. She shows her gift for the church sound but within Silver's context. But her excellence far exceeds the usual milking of the Hammond. Scott has a clear vision on this album for each track and manages to turn these compositions by Silver into independent works of grand improvisation and dramatic presentation.
JazzWax tracks: I have no idea why Shirley Scott Plays Horace Silver hasn't been issued on CD. Seems a shame, though, considering how monumental a recording it is. Two of the tracks—The Preacher and Senor Blues—popped up on the 1997 Opus de Funk: The Jazz Giants Play Horace Silver here. But that's about it. You may be able to find it on download sites.
JazzWax clip: How smokin' is this lost album? Here's Shirley Scott on Silver's Strollin'...