PICK: The music of Horace Silver by the Butterbean Jazz Quintet at Bottom’s Up Pizza, Sunday, Jan. 22


The rotating cast of the Butterbean Jazz Quintet takes on the music of Horace Silver this Sunday night at Bottoms Up Pizza, 1700 Dock St.

Any list of the great jazz piano players of the ‘50s and ‘60s would include Silver, if not necessarily in the top five. This is a bit unfair, given how many times his classic “Song for My Father” has been covered, or sampled in the case of the opening bass riff of Steely Dan’s “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number.”

Silver had a long creative career before his death at 85 in 2014. But it is the great early Blue Note recordings, the aforementioned “Songs,” “Cape Verdean Blues,” that define his legacy. There is a lot of playfulness in his playing, but his songs aren’t simple.

And this isn’t the first time Butterbean has tried.

“A couple of years ago we decided to do a night of Horace Silver tunes,” says trumpeter Bob Miller. “It turns out that some of that stuff was not as straightforward as we thought. Almost all the compositions have multiple sections, with changes in feel and rhythm. It might go from Latin to swing to whatever. He always had great bands, and every record is different.”

This time, Butterbean, with bassist Rusty Farmer, pianist Lee Covington, drummer Scott Clark, and saxophonist JC Kuhl, along with Miller, are going in prepared for the complexity. “We’re rehearsing Saturday morning,” Miller says. “We learned from the first time we tried.”

Butterbean Jazz Quartet plays two sets at Bottoms Up Pizza from 6 to 9 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 22. Admission is free, but the pizza isn’t.