Snabel K Bar Christoffer Kofler©

Why Do I Like Silver


Bar Horace Silver in 1969

A Sketch of a Jazzman



Horace Ward Nartin Tavares Silver a jazz pianist of an unrestrainable temper, probably inherited through his Portuguese roots, was born in USA in 1928 . His exciting career, as many other careers, started by an accident, when Stan Getz, an already recognised saxophone player needed in 1950 a replacement for his usual pianist Al Haig. Horace stayed with Getz but only for one year. He wanted to go on and joined Art Blakey, one of the greatest jazz drummers of be-bob. Horace stayed there from 1951 till 1952. Later he played with Terry Gibbs, Coleman Hawkins, Oscar Pettiford and Lester Young, the guys who paved the way for the modern jazz.

Already then Horace had a message to deliver. He joined "The Messengers" in 1955 and stayed there till mid of 1956. This was a good training. The quintet lead by Art Blakey continued the be-bob traditions, but their own, "hard", pulsating way. Horace shaped there his personality, ground and polished-up the sharp edges of it and got impulses for creation of his own future style. In all those years he was active in several other groups, playing his special rhythmical and joyful way.

Finally it was time to hit the road as a leader. His quintet created in 1956, included among others Art Farmer (trumpet) and later Joe Henderson (tenor sax) and became a great success. Since then he was playing with many jazz masters in various configurations and in many groups of his own, mostly quintets. His quintets had a leading place within a so called message jazz, a style promoting a dynamic, insisting, almost "violent" and hard way of playing (Blackey). With this style of playing he forces his partners to yield their best and pushes them to expose the outmost of their imagination, inspiration and invention. The style of Horace inspires his soloist to use the maximum of their musical the instinct, which basically is one of the main conditions for being a good jazz musician.

Famous are his musical citations. He is a master in mentioning in his choruses short phrases from the well known tunes, often classical music pieces. They fit always perfectly in the actual improvisation and create a surprising effect of a dropped hint or a slightly sketched allusion. Those fuzzy "by the ways" are one of the characteristic elements of Horace's choruses.

Horace is well known as a father of the funky jazz. To define the term, it is a soul-like, but very sharp way of playing jazz, keeping very close connection to the blues tradition and the tradition of the gospel songs of black churches. The funk is often flavoured by very open intonation of the solo instruments. Adding to that a tremendously joyful atmosphere of Horace's improvisations, the picture of the Silverian music is almost completed.
Horace Silver on the piano and, quite independently, Ray Charles as a singer, generated the famous &quote;soul wave" in the second half of the fifties. That wave has been breaking into pop music since the sixties.The soul coming from the black churches, never loosing the touch with them, became a secularised gospel music and that is what made it so popular amongst the younger generation of th sixties.

On the top of being an outstanding instrumentalist, he is considered to be one of the most eminent jazz composers. As a matter of fact, apart from the great Ellington since the mid-twenties, Horace was one of the most productive and successful ones
The most distinguished tunes of his are "The Preacher" , "Doodlin'" , "Señor Blues" ,"Sister Sadie",
" Horace-Scope" , "Blowing the Blues Away" , " Opus de Funk" and there are many, many others.

Discography ? It is a job for itself and already done by many specialists. However, as a good starter I would recommend "Horace Silver and the Jazz Messengers "(Blue Note BLP 1518), "Songs for my Father"(Blue Note CDP 7 93206)" Pencil Packing' Papa" (Columbia CK 62210) and many others. Horace gave concerts in Copenhagen in 1962, 1966 and recently in 1996.

Some jazz columnists reproach Horace Silver for an unchanged musical language and improvisation style since the late seventies. They accuse him for using the same musical citations today, as he did then. Some others provoke him to stop playing, since he stands still presenting no innovations anyway .

It is a fact, that Horace is not an innovator anymore, but he did already his job for jazz. When he today records a blues, both his arrangement and the improvised choruses are saturated with structural elements from half a century of blues history. and this is his great contribution.
I still like his lovely and easily recognisable music. I also admire the fact, that he has always been so faithful to his genuine silver funky style, and he still is the day today . . .

Well, it might be that now it is time for you to relish Horace's music !


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