The cover art for Silver's 1961 Blue Note Doin' the Thing
Legendary jazz pianist Horace Silver passed away today at the age of 85. One of Blue Note Records most prominent artists, Silver helped define the label's sound and the genre of hard bop, while integrating the rhythms of funk, soul and the morna and coladeira from his Cape Verdean heritage.
Born in 1928, Silver made his recording debut backing tenor saxophonist Stan Getz in 1950. A gig in '51 as the house pianist at the prestigious Birdland on 52nd Street helped jumpstart the pianist's career, putting him in weekly contact with the best of the NYC jazz scene. By '55, the Hardbop Grandpop had his name on the Blue Note label, recording his debut as a leader Horace Silver and the Jazz Messengers (side note: though Silver would leave the Jazz Messengers shortly after, drummer Art Blakey used it as his career vehicle, recording a small library of classics and providing a training ground for the best young names in jazz).
Late last year, a small uproar occurred in the jazz community when a blog reported the death of Silver, only to find out later, via NPR's A Blog Supreme, that Silver was alive "drinking coffee and eating breakfast" with his son Gregory. Unfortunately, Silver did pass this morning from natural causes, according to his son.