Horace Silver

Horace Silver, born Horace Ward Martin Tavares Silva on September 2, 1928 and died June 18, 2014. He was an American jazz composer and pianist. Silver is well-known for his unique and humorous playing style, as well as his innovative compositional contributions to hard beat. He was also influenced by many musical styles, including gospel music, African music, Latin American music, and even soul jazz. Silver was born in Norwalk (Connecticut), United States on September 2, 1928. John Tavares Silva was his father and he was originally from Maio, Cape Verde. His mother, who was Irish-African, was born in New Canaan. Silver started his career as an tenor saxophonist, but he later switched to piano. Lester Young was a major influence on Silver’s tenor saxophone play, while Bud Powell influenced his piano playing. Silver made his big break in 1950 when he was backed by Stan Getz, a saxophonist from Connecticut. Silver’s band was liked by Getz, who took them on the road and eventually recorded three of Silver’s compositions. Silver’s recording debut was made with Getz. Silver arrived in New York City in 1951 and worked as a jazz musician at Birdland Monday nights. While working as a sideman, he met Blue Note executives. He signed with them and remained there until 1980. He formed the Jazz Messengers in New York with Art Blakey, which was a cooperatively-run band. Silver recorded three sessions in 1952 and 1953 with his own trio that featured Blakey on drums, Curly Russell, Gene Ramey and Percy Heath as bass. The drummer-pianist duo lasted four years. Silver and Blakey recorded at Birdland during this time (A Night at Birdland Vol. 1) with Russell, Clifford Brown, and Lou Donaldson; at Bohemia with Kenny Dorham u0026 Hank Mobley; as well as in the studio. Silver was also part of the Miles Davis All Stars and recorded the Walkin’ album. Silver was not a leader during his time with Blakey. However, after splitting with him, in 1956, he started his own hard-bop quintet with the same line-up of Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, with Louis Hayes, 18, replacing Blakey. Silver began recording exclusively for Blue Note from 1956. He eventually became close to Alfred Lion, the label boss at the time, who gave him more control over aspects of album production. Silver was instrumental in the creation of “hard bop”, a rhythmically powerful branch of jazz that combined elements from rhythm-and-blues, gospel music and jazz. One of his most popular hits, “The Preacher”, features prominent gospel elements. Although Lion found it corny, Silver convinced him to record it. Silver’s compositions of this time had surprising tempo changes and a variety of melodic ideas. They caught the attentions of many people. In just a few bars, Silver’s piano playing went from being aggressively percussive and lushly romantic. His sharp use of repetition was also funky, even before the word could be used in polite company. Silver was not the only one who recorded his own music. His bands featured rising jazz stars like Junior Cook and Hank Mobley as well as Blue Mitchell and Louis Hayes, drummers. Silver’s most important albums include Horace Silver, the Jazz Messengers (1955), Six Pieces of Silver (1956), and Blowin’ the Blues Away (1959), where he includes his beloved “Sister Sadie”. Through the smash hit “Filthy Mcnasty”, (1961), he also combined jazz and a sassy approach to pop. Silver formed a new band in 1963 with Joe Henderson on tenor and Carmell Jones as trumpet players. This quintet recorded the majority of Silver’s most well-known album, Song for My Father. After Jones moved to Europe, the trumpet seat was taken over by Tyrone Washington and Woody Shaw. Silver responded to cultural and social upheavals that swept the country in the 1960s and 1970s through music. Silver commented directly on the changes through a trio of records later collected under The United States of Mind (1970-72) and featuring the energetic vocals of Andy Bey. As Silver ‘N strings, his group, began to explore cosmic philosophy, he recorded Silver ’N Strings Play the Music of the Spheres (1979). Silver continued to make vital music even after his long tenure with Blue Note. His orchestral collaborations are featured on the 1985 album Continuity of Spirit, (Silveto). He answered the call of urban pop music in the 1990s. This was largely due to his influence on It’s Got To Be Funky (1993), Columbia). Silver was surrounded by his family and received much of the respect due to a jazz legend. Silver was awarded the President’s Merit Award by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences in 2005. Silver’s music was the focus of the SFJAZZ Collective for their 2010 season. Silver, who died from natural causes, was buried in New Rochelle (New York) on June 18, 2014. He was 85. Silver didn’t play up his Portuguese proficiency or draw from his rich Lusophone musical heritage. Silver’s 1965 hit “Cape Verdean Blues”, which is a reference to his childhood home, where his father and his friends used to jam, has a rhythmic connection to the Capeverdean morna or coladeira. Silver said that the song’s title track was an original of his, but it had a taste that reminds him of his childhood. My uncle and father, as well as my father, used to host musical parties using three or four instruments. My father was a guitarist and played the violin. These were informal, happy sessions. After his February 1964 Brazil tour, Silver added Lusophone influences to his music. Silver stated that he was impressed by the authentic bossa-nova beat in “Song for My Father”. It’s not just the boring tick-tick-tick tick-tick rhythm, as it is usually done, but the bossa nova feel, which I tried to include into this song. His influences were influenced by the blues and boogie-woogie. This includes, but isn’t limited to, Teddy Wilson and Nat “King” Cole. As a tribute to his musical heroes, he liked to use quotes from other musicians in his own works and would often re-create famous solos in his original compositions. His catchy, strong harmonically-sounding compositions gained him a lot of popularity, while his band shifted to soul and funk. Many long-term fans were not happy with this change in style. Critics continue to question the quality of many albums from this era, including The United States of Mind (on which Silver provided vocals on multiple tracks). Silver’s spirituality on these albums has also been criticized. Silver was the last artist to sign to Blue Note before the label went on a temporary hiatus in the 1970s. He started his own labels in 1981, Silveto and Emerald. Silver’s music was a major influence on such pianists Bobby Timmons and Les McCann. Silver’s talents were not lost on rock musicians with jazz influences. Steely Dan took Silver to the Top 40 when they created their biggest hit single, Rikki Don’t Lose That Number. This song is based on the bass riff that opens Song for My Father. From Wikipedia

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