Horace Silver

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Horace Silver (1989)

Horace Ward Martin Tavares Silver (born September 2, 1928 in Norwalk , Connecticut , † June 18, 2014 in New Rochelle , New York ), actually Silva , was an American jazz pianist and composer .

life and work

Silver started out as a tenor saxophonist (with Lester Young as a model), but then switched to the piano through Graham Forbes , with whom he was friends. Stan Getz discovered him in 1950 at a club in Hartford , Connecticut , and went on tour with his trio. He also made his first recording with Getz. In 1951 he moved to New York , where he spotted the producers of Blue Note Records during the Monday night jam sessions . In 1952 and 1953 he recorded there with his own trio, which also included Art Blakey , with whom he jointly founded the Jazz Messengers (first recording under this name in 1954), a formation that influenced the style of the hard bop . Horace Silver's style is characterized by a percussive style of playing with driving funky rhythms and concise melodies. He became known for his interpretations of mostly his own pieces in rhythmically very exact arrangements and his colorful style.

Formally, he knew how to expand the basic structure of bebop "in a very special way" by combining 12-bar blues and 8-bar song forms or by writing themes with an odd number of bars. Silver was not the first to begin this breakaway from the conventional schemes, but its effects can be traced back to rock music.

Horace Silver 1978 at Keystone Korner, San Francisco

Silver became one of the Blue Note stars through his successful albums and received considerable freedom from his co-founder Alfred Lion (including the design of cover and liner notes).

Silver has been influenced by numerous styles of music, particularly gospel , African music, and Latin American music . Silver brings the latter with him from his family background. Born in New Canaan, Connecticut, the mother has Irish roots. The family on his father's side comes from Cape Verde . Silver was not only a hard bop pioneer, but also one of the founders of soul jazz . He was u. a. Composer of the pieces “Sister Sadie”, “Filthy McNasty”, “Tokyo Blues”, “Song for My Father” (written for his father John Tavares Silva from the Cape Verde island of Maio) and “Señor Blues” and others. v. a. that advanced to jazz standards .

Silver played with many jazz greats until the late 1950s. a. with Lou Donaldson , Lester Young , Clark Terry , Miles Davis , Kenny Clarke , Milt Jackson , Kenny Burrell and Cannonball Adderley . Since then he has only played (almost) exclusively with his own bands. After his time with the Jazz Messengers , he founded his own hard bop quintet in 1956, in which, similar to Blakey, young talents were promoted, such as Hank Mobley , Louis Hayes , Junior Cook , Blue Mitchell , Joe Henderson , Woody Shaw or Michael and Randy Brecker . The composition of his quintet (tenor saxophone, trumpet, rhythm section with piano) served as a model for many jazz combos in the 1960s. Active since the early 1950s, Horace Silver's successful career spanned more than fifty years.

Horace Silver died on June 18, 2014 at the age of 85 at his New Rochelle home.


"What is jazz music but another language?" - "What is jazz but another language?"

"Jazz music stimulates the minds and uplifts the soul of those who play it as well as of those who listen to and immerse themselves in it."
"Jazz stimulates the mind and uplifts the soul of both those who play it and those who hear it and are fully immersed in it."

Compositions (selection)

Typical hard bop brass section: From Horace Silver's Señor Blues
  • Cooking at the Continental
  • Doodlin '
  • Ecaroh
  • Filthy McNasty
  • Jungle Juice
  • Moonrays
  • Nica's Dream
  • Nutville
  • Opus de funk
  • Peace
  • Psychedelic Sally
  • Quicksilver
  • safari
  • Señor Blues
  • Sister Sadie
  • Song for My Father
  • The preacher

Discography (selection)

Band leader

  • Introducing the Horace Silver Trio ( Blue Note , 1952)
  • Horace Silver Trio Vol. 2 (& Art Blakey-Sabu) (Blue Note, 1953)
  • A Night at Birdland , Vol. 1 & 2 (Blue Note)
  • Horace Silver and the Jazz Messengers (Blue Note, 1954)
  • At the Cafe Bohemia , Vol. 1 & 2 (BLP 1507/1508)
  • Six Pieces of Silver (Blue Note, 1956)
  • The Stylings of Silver (Blue Note, 1957)
  • Further Explorations (Blue Note, 1958)
  • Finger Poppin ′ (Blue Note, 1959)
  • Blowin 'the Blues Away (Blue Note, 1959)
  • Horace-Scope (Blue Note, 1960)
  • Doin 'the Thing - At the Village Gate (Live) (Blue Note, 1961)
  • The Tokyo Blues (Blue Note, 1962)
  • Song for My Father (Blue Note, 1964)
  • The Cape Verdean Blues (Blue Note, 1965)
  • The Jody Grind (Blue Note, 1966)
  • Serenade to a Soul Sister (Blue Note, 1968)
  • You Gotta Take a Little Love (Blue Note, 1969)
  • In Pursuit of the 27th Man (Blue Note, 1972)
  • Jazz Has a Sense of Humor (Verve, 1999)



  • Horace Silver: Let's Get to the Nitty Gritty . University of California Press, 2006 (autobiography).

Web links

Commons : Horace Silver  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

References and comments

  1. Horace Silver et al. a .: Let's Get to the Nitty Gritty: The Autobiography of Horace Silver 2006, p. XVI
  2. ^ Joachim-Ernst Berendt , Günther Huesmann: Das Jazzbuch . 7th fully revised and updated edition. Fischer Tb. Vlg., Frankfurt 2007, ISBN 978-3-596-15964-2 , p. 805 f.
  3. One of Silver's 1965 album is called The Cape Verdean Blues .
  4. In 1958 Silver recorded the "Señor Blues" in a vocal version with singer Bill Henderson , included on his album Six Pieces of Silver .
  5. Peter Keepnews: Horace Silver, 85, Master of Earthy Jazz, Is Dead . In: The New York Times , June 18, 2014 (English); Obituary, accessed June 19, 2014.