Whether he is playing a songbook classic, a Yiddish melody, low-down blues or upbeat jazz, Rob Silverman always seems to have a smile on his face when he is at the piano.
The Riverdale resident has performed and taught the genre he loves throughout the city since moving from his native New Haven, Conn. as a young man.
Mr. Silverman’s tenth album, released last year, is a grateful love letter to jazz. His mellow melodies and positive lyrics convey the same enthusiasm Mr. Silverman brings to his classes from the Hebrew Home at Riverdale to Manhattan’s 92nd Street Y and beyond. The album’s title piece, “Song of Thanks,” and other original compositions bear the mark of a longtime jazz craftsman in his prime.
During an interview at his apartment down the street from Van Cortlandt Park, Mr. Silverman, a longtime pianist and trumpet player, reflected on his latest achievement.
“This is the first album where I’m thinking of myself more as a vocalist,” he said. “There’s been a lot of encouragement, especially from people in the jazz industry, to do it.”
While Mr. Silverman has long performed with big-name performers like blues legend Albert King and had works featured at venues including the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, he has yet to break into jazz’s commercial mainstream. But he said after making albums focusing more on classics than original works, he felt the time was right to give something back to the genre.
“When you’re living in 2014, and I’m about to turn 60, you really need to be making your own contribution,” Mr. Silverman remarked.
His undertaking encompasses 14 pieces that Mr. Silverman loosely divided into two categories — compositions that follow traditional, 12-bar blues progressions and songs that just have a blues feel.
Throughout, the musician employs a casual-sounding tenor that would be at home in laid-back lounges as well as at the Lincoln Center.