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Of all the standards I learned as a cadet in jazz college, one of my favorites is “Song for My Father,” the classic title track to the 1965 album recorded by pianist and bandleader Horace Silver with the Horace Silver Quintet.
The tune features a sinuous, well-written melody, harmonized by trumpet and tenor saxaphone, and some rather cool-sounding chord changes played over a laidback Latin-flavored bossa nova beat and signature root-fifth alternating bass line, which was later borrowed nearly verbatim by several pop artists, most notably Steely Dan on their 1974 hit song “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number.”
“Song for My Father” is built around a handful of closely related chords and is played at a fairly moderate tempo that is conducive to improvising 16th-note “double-time” licks over the changes.
These are attributes that would no doubt appeal to rock musicians who want to get into jazz, making it, like “Blue Bossa,” which we looked at in the December and Holiday 2013 installments of String Theory, an ideal “gateway” tune.