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Horace Silver 

 

 

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Horace Silver is one of the most important figures from the hard bop movement of the 1950s and in my opinion, his music is some of the most "fun" in all of jazz.

He was born and raised in Connecticut, studying saxophone and piano with a church organist.  He was playing piano with a group in Hartford when Stan Getz heard him and hired him to play in his group.   After playing with Getz, he went on to play with Coleman Hawkins, Oscar Pettiford, and Lester Young in the next few years.  He became one of the original members of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers.  This group became a leader in the reaction to cool jazz during the mid-50s, through the music known as hard bop. His style defined the hard bop sound, as he simplified Bud Powell's bebop piano style  and fused it with blues and gospel (the roots of jazz) and made the sound more percussive, accenting with either hand.  Besides having more gospel and blues to the sound, it was more "emotional" and danceable, and had a "happy" sound to it.  The style became known as "funk."  He composed many jazz classics in this genre, such as Quicksilver, The Preacher, and Doodlin' during these years.

After 1956, he left the Jazz Messengers and fronted his own quinetets.  He continued with this style of music, which continued to be very popular.  His albums Songs for my Father and Cape Verdean Blues managed to make the pop charts.  Since the mid-1960s, he toned down his music, but he did start adding words to his songs.  Some say his music wasn't nearly as interesting since then.  However, in 1997 he did release his first hard bop album, A Prescription for the Blues  in over 25 years, and it is one I'd highly recommend!

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