Hard Bop Jazz Icon Horace Silver Dead At 85

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Pianist, composer, and the creative force behind the rhythmic jazz sound known as “hard bop,” where gospel music meets R&B, Horace Silver (pictured), passed away Wednesday morning of natural causes at his home in New Rochelle. Silver was 85 years old reports The New York Times.

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Born September 2, 1928, in Norwalk, Conn., and discovered by jazz icon Stan Getz in 1950, Silver’s autobiography, “Let’s Get To The Nitty Gritty” made mention of the fact that his father was his earliest musical influence and that he “played violin, guitar, and mandolin, strictly by ear.”

Silver got his jazz jumpstart by playing tenor sax at various clubs in his home state.  He eventually made a musical instrument switch to piano in the 1950s and decided to make his way to the New York City jazz scene to play at clubs there. The prolific composer landed with the famed Art Blakely & The Jazz Messengers when he was 25-years old, and with his creative contributions, their music incorporated blues and gospel in to a genre that evolved into bebop.  Silver wrote all but one song on the group’s first hard bop album.

Eventually, Silver left Blakely’s group to go solo, and beginning in 1956, he signed up with the legendary Blue Note jazz album label, where he managed to crank out about 20 albums, until he parted with the label, in the 1980s.

Silver, who composed music, featuring percussive hard-driving beats, recorded such hard bop classics as 1959’s “Blowin’ the Blues Away,” 1964’sSong For My Father,” and 1966’s “The Jody Grind” and has performed with such jazz luminaries as Getz, Lester Young, Oscar Pettiford and Miles Davis.

Listen to “Blowin’ the Blues Away” here:

Earlier this year, four of Silver’s Blue Note albums made it on to the label’s “100 essential jazz albums” list, which was issued as part of its 75th anniversary celebration. Silver was also honored with the Presidential Merit Award from the Recording Academy in 2005.

Silver is survived by one son, Gregory.

Listen to “Song for my Father” here:

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