Horace Parlan is definitely not a household name when it comes to Jazz music unless you are a true follower. Those who are, unanimously acknowledge Horace Parlan’s piano playing and easily back it up with a respectable collection of his albums as a sideman in the mid-’50s to middle ’60s and as a leader from the early 60’s to the mid-2000s, check his discography here. Of course, it’s no real surprise in this and many other cases where a Jazz musician is overlooked somehow, it happens to the best of them. Horace Parlan is known for the first 6 albums he recorded in 1960 and 61 as a leader but chose for some reason to work as a sideman until the early 70’s. As a sideman, if you look closer on his discography, he was part of numerous “classic” Jazz recordings lead by Booker Ervin, Dexter Gordon, Charles Mingus, Roland Kirk, Stanley Turrentine, Archie Shepp and more. I guess some people would say those magical recordings he participated in were his so-called “claim to fame” but they would be quite wrong. Horace Parlan recorded some incredible stuff with many well-known Jazz musicians but in studios outside of the country. In 1973 he decided to move out of the United States to Denmark (more in the documentary below). I selected songs from different recordings he made ranging from 1960 to 2003 so to get a better grasp of his musical style. Please pay close attention to his solos and ENJOY!
Here’s “Up in Cynthia’s Room” from his 1960 recording “Speakin’ My Piece”:
Here’s “Al’s Tune” from his 1961 recording “On the Spur of the Moment”:
Here’s “The Other Part of Town” from his 1961 recording “Up & Down.” :
Here’s “Home is Africa” from his 1963 recording “Happy Frame of Mind.” :
Here’s his version of “For Heaven’s Sake” from his 1973 recording”Arrival”:
Here’s the title song from his 1974 recording “Frank-ly Speaking” :
Here’s the title song from his 1983 album “Like Someone in Love.”:
Here’s “Broken Promises” from his solo 1999 recording “Voyage to Rediscovery.”:
And Here’s “Love and Peace” from his 2003 recording “Relaxin’ with Horace.”:
Here’s an incredible documentary on Horace Parlan named “Horace Parlan by Horace Parlan” which I have chosen as his official “biography.” Nothing else can possibly substitute or represent more of anybody’s biography then when it is written or as in this particular case, placed on film and narrated by the person it pertains to. Its a one on one presentation of personal facts combined and supported with fascinating historical anecdotes. The documentary was film in June of 1999 , here’s more from the Library of Congress. He unfortunately passed away on February 23rd of 2017, here’s his obituary.
There’s no better perspective on Horace Parlan, sit back and enjoy!