One of the pioneers of rhythmic jazz style hard bop, Horace Silver, passed away on June 18 at age 85 in his house New Rochelle, N.Y. It was confirmed by his son, Gregory, that his father died of natural causes on Wednesday morning.
The jazz pianist, who was born on September 2, 1928, in Norwalk, began his career as a musician by working as a tenor saxophonist in clubs in his origin, Connecticut. In 1950s, he moved to New York and switched to piano, beginning to perform at Blue Note Jazz Club.
In 1953, Horace worked with drummer Art Blakey and together they created the prototype of hard bop bands, the Jazz Messenger, which combined the elements of blues and gospel within the bright tempos and virtuosity favored in bebop.
From 1955 to 1980, Horace signed with Blue Note and made more than 20 records, including 1964's "Song for My Father", 1959's "Blowin' the Blues Away", and 1966's "The Jody Grind". His "Song for My Father (Cantiga Para Meu Pai)" landed at No. 19 on Billboard 200 in 1965 and "The Cape Verdean Blues" peaked at No. 130 one year later.
Horace created his own labels in the 1980s. After that he moved to Columbia in 1993 where he recorded for Universal's Impulse imprint.
Horace received President's Merit Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) in 2005. Earlier this year, four of his Blue Note albums were listed into the label's "100 essential jazz albums" as a part of 75th anniversary celebration.
Back in 2008, bassist Christian McBride praised Horace, "Horace Silver's music has always represented what jazz musicians preach but don't necessarily practice, and that's simplicity. It sticks to the memory; it's very singable. It gets in your blood easily; you can comprehend it easily. It's very rooted, very soulful."
Horace wrote in his autobiography "Let's Get To The Nitty Gritty" that his first musical influence was his father, who "played the violin, guitar, and mandolin, stirctly by ear." He shared about his father, "He loved the folk music of Cape Verde. Mr. Nick Santos and Mr. Manuel Perry, friends of my dad who were Cape Verdean, played these instruments also."
Additionally, he wrote, "Occasionally, they would give a dance party in our kitchen on a Saturday night. The women fried up some chicken and made potato salad. The men would get whiskey and beer and invite all their friends, Cape Verdean and American blacks, to come and have a good time."
Horace is survived by one son.