He quickly began learning piano after his Chick-epiphany and his keen analytical thinking allowed him to grasp the intricacies of Jazz chord changes. By 1985 he had begun composing his own music.
His 2015 release, “Younger Next Year,” is a splendid example of Silverstein’s writing skills and he has brought together some of Florida’s hottest Jazz players to give full-throated expression to his composing.
The album is autobiographical for Silverstein with each tune marking some person, place or event in his life’s journey.
The album kicks off with “Roaring Fork.” Jeff Rupert’s sax work introduces the lightly swinging melody. Larue Nickelson’s delicate but deliberate guitar assumes the lead with rich effect. The trade-off between them is fluid and sweet. A cool groove.
“Our Little Secret” follows with a smooth bossa nova feel. Rupert again carries the melody of this Jazz nocturne in the beginning. Silverstein takes his first lead here and shows that his Jazz talents do not reside solely in his pen. Michael Ross turns in warm bass lines in this beauty.
“Doc Five More” is a cool 5/4 number that recalls Dave Brubeck. Rupert and Nickelson play off each other so very well and then give space for Silverstein’s piano.
Bill Evans Trio alumni Marty Morell is masterful on the drums as one would expect. He is creative and dynamic, understated and always captivating.
“Love in My Heart” begins beautifully with piano, bass and drums. The piece is inspired by Bill Evans “Why Did I Choose You.” Rupert’s breathy sax is lovely and emotional. Nickelson’s guitar is cool in both lead and in rhythm. Silverstein’s piano is rich and colorful.
“Helix 49r” is a great blues tune. Rupert and Silverstein work it well and Michael Ross’ bass is as cool as you could ask for. Morell’s interrupted drum solo is paced and spaced perfectly.
“Waltz for Mike” is a gorgeous piece with one of the most memorable melodies on an album full of memorable melodies. If you needed one example of Silverstein’s brilliant writing. “Waltz for Mike” would be it.
“Feelings” was another Bill Evans-inspired piece. And why not? It doesn’t get much better than Bill Evans. Rupert carries the melody as Silverstein and Nickelson chord along.
It is a great showpiece for Rupert who makes fine work of the quick runs and soaring tones. The whole band is wonderfully well-suited for all of these compositions.
“Younger Next Year”—then title track—has lovely sax work but Silverstein’s piano lines are the real hook for the song. The sax and piano lines only slightly mirror each other but the flow is the same until the guitar cuts away at a different angle. It is lively and tight and even playful. Good stuff.
“You Can’t Be Real” is a sweetly quirky tune. More incredulity than melancholy, this piece is very catchy.
“Friends” return to the bossa nova type of warmth and emotion. The conversation of sax, guitar and piano is like pals conversing around a fire pit, increasingly affected by their drinks. Melodic lines start to slur and repeat like oft-told stories repeated among life-long chums until evening fades.
“Magic Sam” is a fast-talking albeit smooth operator. A trio piece, Silverstein, Ross and Morell are in the pocket and loving every minute of it. You can’t help but dig the melody.
“You made Me Cry” is about one of Dr. Silverstein’s fellows who claimed that Silverstein had made her cry. There are moments that are strident, some melancholy, some tender.
“Million Dollar Dog” is a nice swing step. The rhythm section lights it up as Ross hands in a fun, playful solo. A great romp, “Million Dollar Dog” is a fine way to close the album. All the musicians get to solo on the way out.
“Younger Next Year” is a meaningful look at Herb Silverstein’s own life as he interprets it episodically in his compositions. He proves, over and over, the skills of writing, the talents of playing and the will for leadership.
“Younger Next Year” is intelligent music; it is precise and innovative, energetic and oh-so-cool.