Horace Silver

Horace Silver

Piano, Composer
September 2, 1928 -- June 18, 2014

Beyond Blue Note

"I like doing the Horace Silver repertoire. Some of the lyrics he wrote are really funny, but at the same time his songs are not easy to sing, so you have to stay disciplined and really concentrate."

--Dee Dee Bridgewater

Horace Silver's music reflects his roots, as well his openness to all types of music, embracing Broadway tunes, musicals, and classical music as much as jazz, rock, blues, and folk. His mother and father were African American and Cape Verdean, respectively, and Silver grew up listening to Gospel music in the Baptist Church, though he was equally attracted to the blues, Latin rhythms, and African folk music. "It feels great to be called a legend," he admits. "It's something I never would have dreamed of in my earlier years."

He started his musical studies with classical piano lessons and played both tenor and baritone sax in Norwalk, Connecticut. In later years, Silver parlayed this abiding affection for brass into an instantly recognizable trademark: for more than four decades, his quintets have prominently featured trumpet and sax to stunning effect. "It's not only that Like the horns up front in quintets: it's what we started out with, what I'm widely known for. And people love us for it. People will accept Horace Silver in other configurations," he adds, citing the seven-piece ensemble he recorded for Hardbop Grandpop (his 1996 Impulse! Debut) and his use of vocals in U.S. State of Mind (one of several acclaimed releases during his 28-year tenure at Blue Note). "I like to change up but I always return to the quintet," as he did in his 1997 Impulse! Recording, A Prescription For The Blues.

Silver's powerful percussive bass lines and buoyant, almost dancing, melodic touch, propelled jazz into uncharted territory. His 1954 gospel-inspired hit, "The Preacher", recorded with his band, the original Jazz Messengers, gave birth to the "soul" movement in jazz--and established Silver as a leader in a new direction of jazz, one that took a sharp 180-degree turn away from the more cerebral bebop style then so prevalent. (That same year, he recorded the historic hardbop classic, "Walkin," with Miles Davis, and "Opus De Funk,") Two years later, leaving the Jazz Messengers in Art Blakely's capable hands, he started his first quintet. Silver is now widely regarded as one of the great composer/melodists whose beloved compositions--"Song For My Father," "Senor Blues," "Doodlin'," "Nica's Dream," "Sister Sadie," and countless others--are core jazz repertory.

Through the years, he has tirelessly mentored and showcased countless new talents--Joe Henderson, the Brecker Brothers, Blue Mitchell, Junior Cook, Woody Shaw, Louis Hayes, and others among them Silver feels strongly about his responsibility to pass on what he knows, acknowledging the value of the lessons he learned while developing his distinctive style and gaining confidence as a performer. "I received help from so many. Stan Getz discovered me in Connecticut and got me on the road to my career," recalling the Getz trio he toured and recorded with in 1950-51.

Throughout the early '50s, he was an active sideman at Birdland, where he backed such artists as Getz, Terry Gibbs, Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins, and many others. "Miles (Davis), Art Blakely . I learned something from each one of them," Silver states. "The guys who concentrated on the small combo, there all gone," said Silver, citing the passing of Blakely, Miles, Dizzy Gillespie, and Cannonball Adderly. "Older cats with a wealth of experience, there aren't too many of us left."


A selected discography of Horace Silver albums.

More About Horace Silver

The Early Years || Mitchell-Cook Quintet || Henderson Quintets

The Horace Silver Discography

Find Horace Silver on Amazon.comFind Horace Silver on eBay.com
Horace Silver CDs on AmazonHorace Silver CDs on eBay
Horace Silver: Art of Small Combo Playing, BOOKHorace Silver LPs on eBay
The Horace Silver Collection, BOOKHorace Silver BOOKs on eBay
Giants of Jazz Piano, BOOKHorace Silver DVD / VHS on eBay


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