Adios, Señor Blues
June 18, 2014 3:45 PM   Subscribe

The great jazz pianist, composer, and bandleader Horace Silver has died at age 85.

Silver was known as one of the fathers of the "hard bop" style, and also had an eye for talented young musicians rivaling that of Art Blakey and Miles Davis. A number of his compositions have become jazz standards, notably "Song For My Father" - seen here in a version recorded in 1968, with Bennie Maupin (tenor sax), Bill Hardman (trumpet), John Williams (bass), Billy Cobham (drums) - and "Senor Blues," from 1958, with Junior Cook (tenor sax), Blue Mitchell (trumpet), Gene Taylor (bass), and Louis Hayes (drums).

More live Silver:

"Cool Eyes", from the same 1958 session as above.

"Tokyo Blues", "Pretty Eyes" and "The Natives are Restless Tonight " from 1964, with Joe Henderson (tenor sax), Carmell Jones (trumpet), Teddy Smith (bass), and Roger Humphies (drums).

"Nutville," from the same 1968 session as above.

A set from the 1976 Umbria Jazz Festival, featuring Tom Harrell (trumpet), Bob Berg (tenor sax), Steve Beskrone (bass), and Eddie Gladden (drums).
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner (39 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

posted by Thorzdad at 3:51 PM on June 18

posted by The Bellman at 3:55 PM on June 18

posted by Maecenas at 4:01 PM on June 18

So we're down to 2 people left who were in A Great Day In Harlem.

Lesser known heat.
posted by todayandtomorrow at 4:05 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]

My high school marching band once did a show called "Pieces of Silver", featuring "Song for my Father", Sister Sadie, and "The Natives are Restless Tonight". That was my first introduction to Horace Silver; he will be missed.

posted by damayanti at 4:07 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]

posted by the_bone at 4:07 PM on June 18

posted by ormon nekas at 4:16 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]

posted by bgrebs at 4:17 PM on June 18

I had heard that he had Alzheimer's, which made me more sad than news of his passing.


One of my favorites by him is Kathy
posted by thelonius at 4:39 PM on June 18

I've often entertained the fantasy that his legacy lives on via a name-check in a popular sitcom, but that may just be a fantasy.
posted by Shepherd at 4:49 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]

posted by the sobsister at 4:59 PM on June 18

"Ecaroh" is a jazz staple among high school jazz bands. RIP Horace, you'll never be forgotten.
posted by Lynsey at 5:00 PM on June 18

posted by Smart Dalek at 5:14 PM on June 18

posted by phoebus at 5:23 PM on June 18


This one hurts.
posted by GrammarMoses at 5:32 PM on June 18

posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:35 PM on June 18

posted by raysmj at 5:55 PM on June 18

posted by doctor_negative at 5:55 PM on June 18

There are so few living legends left. Now one fewer.
posted by dirtdirt at 6:18 PM on June 18

posted by newdaddy at 6:29 PM on June 18

posted by trip and a half at 6:36 PM on June 18

posted by HeroZero at 7:07 PM on June 18

Last year I looked up top Jazz albums and tried to get some that I hadn't had or heard, and Horace Silver's "Song for My Father" was listed so I got that and have been listening to it the past year a bit. It's so mellow and just pleasant to listen to.

posted by symbioid at 7:37 PM on June 18

Dammit, I always suspected -- or at least hoped -- that Silver was an immortal. RIP, Horace. Your music lives on. Doin' the Thing remains one of my very favorite live jazz recordings.
posted by .kobayashi. at 7:39 PM on June 18

Que Pasa is my favorite. There's a solo version out there somewhere that COOKS...
posted by ivanthenotsoterrible at 9:23 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]

I got to see him play live a few times when I lived in LA from 1997-2000. It was really amazing to see these guys getting old but still playing locally near where they lived. I'm really bummed to hear he passed, he was a legend.
posted by mathowie at 9:41 PM on June 18

posted by Wolof at 10:31 PM on June 18

Oh man, so sad to hear. Cheers Horace.

posted by sektah at 12:28 AM on June 19

Godspeed, sir, and thanks.
posted by On the Corner at 12:42 AM on June 19

Blue Note classic, so full of life!

posted by asok at 1:59 AM on June 19

posted by Gelatin at 3:23 AM on June 19

He was just amazing. He will be missed.
posted by persona au gratin at 4:29 AM on June 19

posted by lownote at 6:26 AM on June 19

Damn. I've gotten used to musicians passing, sadly, but this one hurts. Farewell, Horace.
posted by languagehat at 7:33 AM on June 19

One of my favorite jazz artists. His playing *and* writing was so rich and interesting - and so highly accessible. He was completely central to the evolution of the music in the 1950s. When I was an indie rock kid just starting to explore jazz, one of the key moments that woke me up to the joy of listening to the stuff was discovering Horace Silver's early 50s trio recordings and his astonishing run of consistently brilliant late 50s to late 60s Blue Note records.

His unapologetically spiritual later work from the 70s and 80s, much of it released on his own label, was a neat, odd avenue to briefly wander, although I realize now I tended to dismiss it and didn't spend much time listening with an open ear/mind/heart. This 1981 interview [pdf] offers lots of insight into Silver's thinking about spiritual matters, jazz, critics and more, and made me realize I should give those albums another chance.

I can't imagine him resting in peace so much as eternally grooving in a joyous, high-energy musical ecstasy. Here's hoping you're doing that, Horace Silver. And thanks for turning me on to jazz.
posted by mediareport at 8:15 AM on June 19

Damn, that solo starting at 4:00 in the Senor Blues clip in the post is a perfect example of what makes Horace Silver so great - tasteful, elegant, funky, groovy and just a ton of fun to listen to.

A co-worker and I were just debating the merits of the term "hard bop" the other day. It's odd to hear what Horace Silver was doing - opening jazz more directly to gospel, blues and soul influences - and realize the description that stuck was "this is a 'hard' version of bop." That's always seemed a bit off to me.
posted by mediareport at 8:30 AM on June 19

posted by GrapeApiary at 8:40 AM on June 19

That's always seemed a bit off to me.

I agree, it is a funny name. I first assumed that it must mean like die-hards who wanted nothing to do with cool jazz or post-bop, so-called, and wanted to carry on playing like it was 1950.
posted by thelonius at 9:08 AM on June 19

posted by klausness at 3:54 PM on June 22

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