Pioneering jazz pianist Horace Silver died yesterday at his home in New Rochelle, NY. He was 85. After beginning as co-leader of Art Blakey And The Jazz Messengers, he struck out on his own and worked in developing hard bop, which incorporated gospel and R&B into bebop. Using his virtuosic piano skills and beginning with the album Horace Silver And The Jazz Messengers, Silver recorded a string of albums for the legendary Blue Note label that were definitive examples of the style, leading up to the 1965 album Song For My Father, an all-time jazz classic.
Silver’s music connected with pop in the 1970s when Steely Dan released their biggest hit, the Pretzel Logic opener “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” which incorporated elements of “Song For My Father.” While many jazz greats of the bop era eventually abandoned the style (Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock) or died before their time (whether from drug addiction or unexpected tragedy) Silver pretty much kept doing what he was doing and remained very successful at it.