Musicians Remember Horace Silver

June 19, 2014
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Jazz piano legend Horace Silver, considered to be the father of the "hard bop" style, passed away on June 18, 2014. Here, some of the best and brightest musicians we've interviewed and worked with in the pages of Keyboard with remember his music and his influence on them. Read our lesson on his piano techniques here.
 
I saw Horace Silver in 1973 at the Jazz Workshop in Boston, on a trip looking at colleges. I remember it so well; the Brecker Brothers were on saxophone and trumpet and Alvin Queen was the drummer. They were swingin' so hard, the groove was so deep, and I thought that rhythmically this was a place I needed to find. I bought their record "In Pursuit of the 27th Man" and wore it out. I was deeply moved by Horace Silver from then on. Thank you, Mr. Silver. - Bruce Hornsby

Horace Silver is the only jazz artist I have paid to see six times. He always had a great band and played a funky, modal, soulful style of jazz that I loved. RIP Horace Silver. - Christopher North

Horace Silver knew the power of rhythm, feel, and phrasing, and he developed those elements to an incredibly high degree. His lines, as a pianist, were both precise and highly personal in their language and affect. I love watching his body language on films of him playing: totally engaged and committed. The way he felt time was so unique, almost brutal sometimes, with some of the hardest edges you'll find in jazz, and yet always deeply in the pocket. Like Monk, he was a strong and unique personality that managed to communicate to a large audience. Hats off.  - Dan Tepfer

Obviously "Song For My Father" is the biggie composition here (even my teenage sons love that one, with the intro nod later from Donald Fagen of course), but one of my true "desert island" jazz albums is "Walkin'" by the Miles Davis All-Stars, with some wonderful contributions from Horace Silver. I still listen to that one constantly, really a perfectly played - and recorded - album from start to finish. Mr. Silver was part of my favorite era of '50s and '60s jazz. Funky, raw, simple, intense but always melodic. We lost another true original and one of the greats. We even quote the ride-out unison blues riff  from "Walkin'" with my group the Hooters, in a live version of our zydeco-style jam. We just played it last night!  Rock on, Mr. Silver! - Rob Hyman

I've always connected with pianists that approached the piano from a drummer's perspective.That opened the door to jazz for me in a way that I could relate to. But ultimately, if I had to think of one thing when I think of Horace Silver it would be as the composer of one of the greatest song titles in history That, of course, is "Filthy McNasty!" Can you dig it? - Brian Mitchell

Very sad news to hear of the passing of the most funky pianists ever. I can hear his influence in so many players. A real innovator. - Jason Rebello

When I was 11 or 12 years old, I would walk five or six blocks everyday to the local luncheonette to play "Señor Blues" and “Enchantment" on the jukebox. Horace Silver will be missed. - Kenny Barron
 
I loved Horace as a person as well as a musician, and I'm so grateful to have met him. He put the soul in jazz music; a unique combination that will forever cement his place in history. - Greg Phillinganes
 
He epitomized elegance and simplicity in soul. - Paul Shaffer
 
Sad loss of Horace Silver. One of the  great innovators of jazz. Very sad to see the passing of a legend. - Jools Holland
 
Horace Silver has been a huge inspiration to me since I first heard "Song for My Father" in 1965.  His melodic and funky playing always appealed to me and later on when  I became more of a student of bebop I also started to appreciate his genius for arrangement and improvisation, which was always way more than the sum of the parts. I remember his amazing performance at the Jazz Workshop in Boston in 1970 with he accompaniment of some very young guys in his band: Randy and Michael Brecker and Will Lee. He used to live near me in Pacific Palisades and I remember running into him in the supermarket, and he was always friendly and gracious. The song "Horace" on my Galaxy CD is a tribute to his influence and unique musical signature. - Jeff Lorber
 
I was a fan of Horace Silver. His compositions were always melodic and he had a deep affection for the potential dialog between trumpet and tenor sax. I believe he pioneered the modern small group rhythm section and was never given full credit due for that contribution. He was also a great guy to hang with! - Vince Maggio
 
Horace Silver’s music spoke from the heart. He had a way of getting to that groove and lifting you up with the music. A few years ago with the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, we paid tribute to Horace with an original by John Clayton, "Silver Celebration." To me, that’s the perfect word for Horace’s music, since he was all about bringing joy, feeling and peace through his music. His music reached inside and all around and told it all in his own soulful way. - Tamir Hendelman

Horace brought the rhythms of jazz and the Cape Verde Islands together in a mix that blurred the line between jazz and soul music and R&B.  He was a major jazz composer, a great spotter of talent, an energetic pianist who didn't waste a note, and a consummate bandleader.  AND he swung his ass off! - Fred Hersch
 
Horace was and is one of my favorite prolific, soulful writer/piano players. His style taught me how to really feel and learn rhythm and Blues. We'll miss him. - Ricky Peterson

Horace Silver got me up off the floor and out the door when I was a kid. He let you know that this music is meant to make people feel good and we owe him a lot.
- Ben Sidran

Horace Silver was a major influence for many pianists as both as a prolific composer and also because of his unique funky piano stylings. After I recorded his piece “Song For My Father,”  he actually took the time to call me at home to tell me how much he had enjoyed it. We then spoke a little bit about his inspiration for writing the piece. I was totally thrilled and it still is a very special moment I will never forget. - Michel Camilo

Horace was a master musician. His piano playing and his songs are a model of simplicity and sophistication, working together naturally and beautifully. And ... that left hand! - Aaron Parks

What a composer! From the slinky, über-hip post-bop heads like “Room 608” and “Quicksilver”, to the obvious soul jazz 1960’s hits which so many non-musicians have been able to hum for decades, and into the 70’s with introspective modern jazz like “Gregory Is Here” & “In Pursuit Of The 27th Man."  And a similar track record hiring the hippest musicians for his decades, from Blue Mitchell and Joe Henderson to the Brecker Brothers, Bob Berg, Al Foster and Tom Harrell.  Horace was a bandleader and composer that will undoubtedly be remembered forever, and his passing reminds me how thankful I am that we have his vast and inspiring catalog from which we can learn so much.  Horace never stopped being hip. - Jeffrey Babko

Horace Silver for me is elegance and grace and passion. Beautiful playing, beautiful compositions which I've enjoyed playing so much over the years (and which work in so many different styles). R.I.P. And thanks for the music. - Keith Cotton

"Blowin' the Blues Away" was one of the most important records I heard as a kid. It shaped how I heard and approached composition and arranging. Horace's spirit was everywhere in his music.  A gift for us all. - Alan Pasqua

Horace Silver showed us how to write, how to play, how to lead a band, and most of all how to groove. - Scott Healy

Horace Silver was among my special favorite musicians.  I have been a devoted fan since 1959.  He had a profound influence on jazz and all popular American music in the latter half of the 20th century, and he certainly increased its popularity throughout the world. - Mike Finnigan

"Song For My Father" makes me think of my father. - Andy Burton
 
I love Horace Silver's tunes. Groovy vamps and bluesy figures set the perfect back drop for his personal, swinging, lyrical style. I remember falling in love with “Strollin" and "Silver's Serenade" when I was a kid learning to play jazz. He is also from Connecticut, just like me! - Brian Charette

It’s always with a heavy heart that we see a great musician depart. Horace Silver was an inspiration to myself and many others. His contributions to jazz will be remembered. - Eldar Djangirov

I've always enjoyed playing his tunes like "Señor Blues" and "Sister Sadie." There was a bluesy accessibility about his music and playing that always spoke to me. - Michael Bluestein

Horace Silver had such an inimitable voice as a pianist, his instincts as a bandleader were perfection. He left us a legacy in his compositions which always spoke truth to his lyrical style and were never swayed by trends. So hip and swinging, intense and introspective. Horace embodied all we know that is jazz! - Yoko Miwa

Horace Silver was a pioneer of post bop, and influenced generations of musicians. His influence on me is profound. "Silver's Serenade," one of my very first jazz records, helped shape me as a pianist, composer, and bandleader. My CD "Serenade to Silver" pays homage to Horace more eloquently than I can here in a few words. Rest easy, Horace, and thank you. - Andy LaVerne

"Doin' the Thing" was one of the first records I checked out from our community college in Oregon when I was in high school.  I still have it (sorry SOCC!), and I still get that same great thrill from it.  Thank you Horace for the joy, from the wide-eyed kid in Coos Bay. - George Whitty

Dr. John once told me something Horace told him long ago.  He said, "Always be searchin' for that lost chord."  Great advice and I hope Horace found it!  He played hard-bop funky piano at it's best. - Josh Charles

Horace was a nurturer of great talent for a number of generations. Michael and Randy Brecker, Bob Berg, Tom Harrell and many others learned from playing his great music in his band. - Jason Miles

Horace Silver was one of the first jazz pianists to catch my ear.  His joyous sound is instantly recognizable.  He is one of the founding pillars of the jazz piano legacy and his indelible mark will never fade. - Henry Hey

Horace Silver's piano playing was a great influence on so many musicians, myself included. His melodic and funky style fused with his virtuosity made for a musical style that will live on forever. - Billy Jay Stein

One of the first Horace Silver tunes I remember hearing when I was in about eighth grade, was "Sweet Stuff" from the album "Finger Poppin'." The 1959 tune and changes still, to me, seem so new. Silver’s solo is so melodic, it seems to be purely a continuation of the melody. It took me a few listens to figure out where the tune ends and where the solos start. - Dan Geisler

Horace Silver was instantly recognisable as a pianist, composer and arranger. His distilled bebop style bloomed into a rootsy, catchy sound that was entirely his own. I saw him perform in London several times in the 1980's and remember his warmth and charm on and off the stand. He was one of the greats. - Jim Tomlinson

Horace Silver along with pianist Ray Bryant and saxophonist Cannonball Adderley put the soul in jazz composition. Sliver’s catchy shorts – “Sister Sadie” and “Sidewinder” and “Song for My Father” became jam session staples. - Bill King
 
Genius of the the piano Horace Silver will forever be an inspiration to anyone who plays and composes in the jazz idiom. A true original voice, he will always be remembered among the best pianists to ever grace the earth. - Emmet Cohen

Horace Silver was a treasure. A great player and writer. RIP. - Kim Bullard
 
Horace Silver is one of those pivotal figures who infused the music with an earthy, funky soulfulness that is so real life, and so jazz. -Helen Sung
 
Although Horace can clearly be called one of the discoverers/inventors of "groove" in modern jazz conceptualization, I think his experience of it was more direct: Horace was groove, and vice-versa. He understood the single thing that's turned out to be the most ubiquitous truth in all forms of popular music, and he understood it because it was an organic part of him. The originality with which he brought it to life was breathtaking, and the hugeness of his contributions will probably never
adequately appreciated. - Laurence Hobgood
 
I remember seeing Horace Silver at a music festival in Watts, just after coming to LA in the mid-1990s. It was an unexpected surprise, and I remember thinking how damn lucky I was to have seen this jazz giant play live. Of course I'm feeling it so much more today, knowing that this American musical treasure is lost to us. I won't ever forget that day and his beautiful music. It's a legacy which will continue to touch and influence all who hear it, even if you are a very white Welsh woman standing in the middle of Watts! - Judith Owen 
 
Horace Silver was one of the most unique piano stylists in all of Jazz history. A soft-spoken, gentle man of slight build, he attacked the piano with much ferocity. I remember seeing Horace at the original Birdland in the early 1960s and I was just struck by his digging down into every phrase he played; you could tell his style immediately after a few bars. Horace wrote so many unforgettable tunes; he was truly one of the great swinging masters. - Monty Alexander
 
As the last pianist to play with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers (1989-90), I was aware that I was a part, however small, of a lineage of jazz pianists going back to the original Messenger, Horace Silver. Horace's piano style and compositions almost singlehandedly defined the "hard bop" sound of the 1950's. His compositions are expertly orchestrated for small ensembles in a way that makes the music sound much bigger than it looks on paper. - Geoffrey Keezer
 
Horace Silver's piano playing and writing was beautiful and funky all at the same time. Now, that's hip! He was one of the greats on all fronts. - Chris Palmaro
 
I first heard Horace when my jazz professor played a record of his for a jazz history class I took my freshman year.  Instantly the rhythmic genius, passion and joy in his playing stood out to me.  I've been a fan ever since. - Tony DeSare

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