Today’s featured redhead is Ron Howard as Opie Taylor. A current photo of Ron wouldn’t display much hair. A well known fact is that redheads possess magical properties. This is especially true for Howard as evidenced by his long, successful career as an actor and director.

Andy and Opie shared a special father-son bond and often enjoyed a day of fishing in idyllic Mayberry. I sometimes refer to this show to explain what a certain segment of the population, e.g., voter for Donald Trump, means when waxing poetic about “the good old days.” You know, when life was so much simpler, minorities and women knew their place and there was no Roe vs. Wade, no gays or lesbians. The air was cleaner and the skies bluer. That’s for another day…

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Like Opie, jazz composer and musician Horace Silver had a special relationship with his father. Song For My Father on Blue Note Records is Silver’s tribute to his father, John Tavares Silva, who he describes in the liner notes as, “of Portuguese origin,  born on the island of Maio, one of the Cape Verde Islands.” This album has always been one of my jazz favorites, maybe because I appreciate the sentiment implicit in the title, but more I think because Silver is rarely mentioned with the great composers like Ellington, Monk, Miles Davis or Charles Mingus, or with other jazz piano masters. Song For My Father is Silver at his finest, and elevates him into this rarefied company.

If the opening bars to the title song sound familiar, it’s because they were borrowed by Steely Dan for Rikki Don’t Lose That Number. They are immediately followed by another well known refrain from Stevie Wonder’s Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing.

“Don’t you worry ’bout a thi-eh-eh-eh—eh-eh-eh—eh-eh-eh—eh-eh-eh-ing.”

Silver describes the rhythm as a bossa nova, but it’s a different slant from what fans heard earlier from Getz, Jobim and Gilberto, which by this time were becoming a bit too familiar. Some critics have described this album as “hard-bop,” but that is ignoring the beautiful subtlety in Silver’s internationally flavored style. There are Asian and Latin influences underlying a soulful bluesy sensibility. Of course, some of these numbers are jumpin’, especially on The Kicker with the tight horn section, and tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson’s in your face solo, truly kickin’ ass, but more impressive is Silver’s sense of space and restraint in letting the music breathe.

Several CD collections of this album include alternate and bonus tracks. The original consists of the playlist below and concludes with the beautiful mournful ballad Lonely Women which soars in its pure understatement, and I believe stands next to Monk’s Ruby My Dear in its artistic expression of sorrow, remorse and loneliness. Listen to the use of space, the extended pauses, and a melody which cries out for lyrics, “I’m such a lone-ly wo-man…” Once Silver trails off to end the album, the listener is left transfixed in a state of empathy.

  1. “Song for My Father” – 7:17
  2. “The Natives Are Restless Tonight” – 6:09
  3. “Calcutta Cutie” – 8:31
  4. “Que Pasa” – 7:47
  5. “The Kicker” (Joe Henderson) – 5:26
  6. “Lonely Woman” – 7:02
Here is the continuation of my short story, Pops.

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It didn’t take me long to realize that just keeping the store open was no easy chore; any money that Pops made went back into his store, to pay his electric bill and restock his slim inventory. Most of the shelves and the old, tired refrigerators, that Pops repeatedly repaired himself, were empty. They often reminded me of the old nursery rhyme, “Old Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard.” There were times when you could fit Pops’ entire inventory into the back seat of your car.

I delivered milk to Pops’ store every morning. It was the last stop on my route, at the end of Lincoln Avenue, the street which functioned as the dividing line between the North and South side of town. A brick wall couldn’t have done a better job of marking the northernmost border of the Black community. Only a handful of black families, those with enough money to buy themselves in, lived on the North side, and no white people, that I know of, made their home on the South side. Anyone that questioned this boundary need only note the railroad cut which ran behind Pops’s store and the rest of the avenue. The regular rumblings of the passenger trains were a constant reminder of the steel border.

I, of course, lived on the North side and never ventured much into the unfamiliar territory of the South until I began my job at the dairy. I took the job in late May, hoping to put an end to my parents’ accusations that I lacked a “sense of responsibility” and had no direction. Having dropped out of music school nearly six months earlier, the accusations were becoming more frequent, and more accurate. My problem was one of definition. Life was no longer a clearly marked course, a series of classes to be passed or failed. Entering the Parker School of Music, I was the “promising young tenor” who would develop his raw talent and become the next Coltrane, but endless classes in theory, composition, and harmony only frustrated me. Music, which had been feeling, was now hard work, and my classmates, with their superior technical skills, intimidated me. I lasted one semester. Putting my horn aside for a while, I set out on my career in the milk business.

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