Horace Silver

Horace Silver

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June 18, 2014 (Age 85) died

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Norwalk, Connecticut, U.S. Birthplace

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Horace Silver was a jazz pianist and pioneer of the hard bop style in the 1950s & 1960s. He contributed significant compositions to the jazz cannon including "The Preacher" and "Song For My Father." Silver hit the New York jazz scene in 1951 and two years later he co-founded the highly influential Jazz Messengers with Art Blakey. By 1956 he had left the Messengers and went on to lead a series of quintets with notable jazz players including Art Farmer, Joe Henderson and Michael Brecker. Silver released 36 albums as leader and appears as a sideman on notable recordings by Miles Davis, Art Blakey, Lee Morgan and others. Silver continued to work through the 1990s and was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2007. He died of natural causes in 204 at the age of 85.


Horace Silver was named an NEA Jazz Master in 1995. Horace Silver recorded exclusively for Blue Note Records until the late 1970s when he left to form his own label called Silveto. Horace Silver's autobiography, "Let's Get to the Nitty Gritty" was published in 2006.

Early Life

Horace Silver was born in Connecticut in 1928. He was exposed to music at an early age, initially hearing the Cape Verde Islands folk music his father enjoyed. Silver began playing the piano in childhood and in high school he played both the piano and tenor saxophone. Silver began taking local gigs while still in school and his big break came in 1950 when a gig backing guest soloist Stan Getz led to an invitation to join Getz on tour. In 1951 Silver moved to New York and soon was playing with top artists including Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, and Oscar Pettiford.