Horace Silver, pioneering Jazz pianist, composer and founding member of the Jazz Messengers died today from natural causes at the age of 85. He had been living in his home in New Rochelle, NY at the time of his passing. Known for his humor and light hearted playing style, Silver’s death is deeply mourned by those who familiar with the generous musician.
Born in 1928 to Maio immigrant John Silva and a Connecticut native mother, Horace grew up learning the tenor saxophone and piano while being heavily influenced by the Cape Verde folk music impressed upon him by his father. When he was 23 Silva moved to New York City to embark on a music career. There he met Art Blakely and the two formed a deep friendship as well as one of the greatest Jazz bands of all time in the Jazz Messengers.
After years of hits such as “Doodlin”, “The Preacher”, and “Sister Sadie” Horace left to pursue other works. In response to the Cultural strife of the 60s and 70s. Silver channeled his thoughts into his music with the The United States of Mind, a trilogy of jazz albums from 1970-1972. In 2005 The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences presented Silver with the President’s Merit award.
Silver has been a colossal influence on today’s biggest jazz musicians. “As far as playing, composing, band leading, arranging, Horace Silver’s got to be one of the most influential musicians in the history of jazz,” said bassist Christian McBride to The LA Times. “No matter what style of jazz that you tend to gravitate toward, Horace Silver always touches you.”
Silver was known for his gentle and caring attitude towards everyone he worked with. “I personally do not believe in politics, hatred or anger in my musical composition,” Silver stated in 1968. “Musical composition should bring happiness and joy to people and make them forget their troubles.” Silver led a career that included collaborations with Miles Davis, Mickey Roker, and Blue Mitchell. His compositions, some writen more than 50 years ago, are still performed by modern Jazz figures.
Silver is survived by his son, Gregory.