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About Herb 

Herbert Silverstein, MD, FACS, president and founder of Florida Ear & Sinus Center and the Ear Research Foundation, has been consistently recognized since 1979 as one of the "Best Physicians in the USA." He has been a leader in otology (the science of the ear) for more than 35 years, developing surgical and diagnostic procedures; inventing instruments (such as the facial nerve monitor/stimulator); teaching medical students, residents, and fellows; and helping people from all walks of life.

Born in Philadelphia, he received his B.S. from Dickinson College, cum laude, and his MS in physiology and MD degree from Temple University Medical School. Before coming to Sarasota in 1973, Herb served on the teaching staff of Harvard University Medical School, Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary, as director of the Walker Biochemistry Research Laboratory, and as associate professor and director of the Otological Research Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School.

Dr. Silverstein is internationally regarded as a leading authority on Meniere's disease, having received the Prosper Meniére Societys' prestigious Gold Medal Honor Award in 1996 for his contributions to understanding the biochemistry of Meniere's disease and his surgical developments to treat the disease. He was one of the first physicians in the U.S. to use a laser in ear surgery to restore hearing in patients with otosclerosis. He was an early investigator of the cochlear implant to bring sound to profoundly deaf persons. He has developed a new procedure for otosclerosis the Laser STAMP (Laser Stapedotomy Minus Prosthesis), that does not require a prosthesis to restore the patients' hearing, and many minimally invasive surgical techniques including the Silverstein MicroWick for treating Meniérè's disease, tinnitus, and sudden deafness with prolonged intratympanic medication.  He developed a new procedure to relieve the symptoms of hyperacusis/noise intolerance.

Dr. Silverstein serves as a Clinical Professor of Surgery on the teaching faculty of the University of Pennsylvania Medical School and at the University of South Florida. He is Board Certified in Otolaryngology and is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He is an active member of many medical societies, including the prestigious American Otological Society, American Neurotology Society, and the Triologic Society. He is on the advisory staff at Sarasota Memorial Hospital.

In 1979, Dr. Silverstein founded the Ear Research Foundation. Today, he serves as its president, as well as its Medical Director. An active researcher, Dr. Silverstein speaks at many annual international medical meetings and is the author of over 250 scientific papers, six textbooks, and videos.

Among his many honors and accolades are the 2nd Howard P. House Award for Excellence in Ear Surgery, and the 10th Prosper Meniere Society Gold Medal Honor Award. In 2017, he delivered the 7th House Memorial Lecture at AAO -HNS. He is one of 25 Otologists in America to be elected to the Best Doctors in the U.S.A. repeatedly since 1979.

In the early 1980s, one of Herb's sons introduced him to a recording of Chick Corea, and this began a long love affair with jazz music.  Herb began learning jazz piano and playing music with friends and colleagues.  In 1985, he began writing songs, his keen and analytical mind grasped the chord changes and patterns necessary to make music, but his creative heart and soul carried that knowledge to create some remarkable, beautiful, and memorable memories.

He has produced 16 albums and written three editions of Jazz Harmony and Improvisation with Richard Drexler which contain 60 of Herb's original compositions.

For over 35 years now, Dr. Silverstein has been composing jazz albums to help inspire support for the Ear Research Foundation. Herb records and plays his music for all to enjoy and to help build awareness about the importance of healthy hearing.  His generous support has allowed the Ear Research Foundation to directly provide care to thousands of disadvantaged individuals.

He and his wife of over 38 years live in Sarasota, Florida where he continues to work as founder of the Silverstein Institute and the Ear Research Foundation.  Herb continues in his surgical work, research, and travels extensively to lecture on new techniques to combat hearing loss, dizziness, and hyperacusis.

"The album Magic Hands showcases the latest chapter in Herb Silverstein's discovery of his voice as a composer, as well as a pianist interpreting his own tunes.  In a duo setting with bassist Michael Ross, he explores this new round of vehicles for improvisation.  His tunes exhibit clear and direct singable melodies over familiar sounding chord progressions, but with a few twists and turns.  Chromaticism, in the form of lines in inner voices and also in the bass note motion of his chord sequences, characterizes his writing, giving a ready identifiable personal stamp on the changes he and Michael improvise on. 

 

His jazz vocabulary has continued to grow, as he is an avid listener of the history of the past masters' recordings.  This has enabled him to present credible expositions of more traditional chord patterns, of standards or blues.  Check out his jazz phrasing on his minor blues called Blue Friday, over very traditional chord changes.  The twist comes in the other minor blues, Breath of Fresh Air Blues, where in the initial melodic statement Herb stays on the IV (or subdominant) chord for four of the twelve measures instead of the usual two (bars 5-8, eschewing the usual return to the tonic in the seventh bar).  The more traditional form is followed in the improvisation.

 

The slower ballads Just Alone, Century Remembered, Magic Hands and Once Upon a Dream maintain melodic and harmonic interest throughout without being novel for novelty's sake.  Herb as a writer follows logical and inevitable trails through his chords in a way that comforts the listener, and then intuitively senses where to insert the unusual deviation to another tonal center.  Rhythmic elements such as the sudden imposition of triplets into the melody of Night Crawler also build interest. 

 

The title tune contrasts simpler diatonic major scale passages with a jazzier Lydian mode approach (even hyper-Lydian through quartal chord voicings raising not only the fourth but the root of the scale), giving a different sound and vibe to different sections of the tune's form.  The quartal voicings also appear in a chromatic walk-up to the bridge of the AABA form tune that follows, Sunday Brunch.  Otherwise the chord patterns resemble a good bebop tune, complete with what is known as the Tadd Dameron turnaround at the end of the first section and the end of the form.  The ballad Once Upon a Dream starts each "A" section like a slow version of Dizzy Gillespie's Woodyn' You, with its circle of sequenced ii/V7 chords descending by whole steps.  This ordering of chords also occurs in the album's finale, You're Almost Right, but within a rubato context where the steady rhythmic pulse is dissolved.  Overall this is a very balanced and cleverly programmed set of original compositions - not at all boring, but engaging through each track.

 

I have included a lot of music technical jargon for the benefit of musicians listening to this recording and reading these comments.  For those who possess no definition for a number of the terms I used to describe what is happening compositionally, know that understanding how the music works is not a prerequisite for feeling and enjoying the music.  All music can be approached on many levels, with a very important factor being the visceral "gut" reaction the listener experiences.  The same sounds can produce varied reactions, but I'm confident that many listening to Magic Hands will experience calm and pleasing thoughts, as, in the words of the great drummer Art Blakey, "music washes away the dust of everyday life."

 

-Richard Drexler

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