Horace Silver Talking Jazz
The success of pianist Horace Silver’s recordings for the Blue Note label during the ‘50’s and ‘60’s, both with The Jazz Messengers featuring Art Blakey and with his various quintets, not only set a style and a sound for other Blue Note albums but helped the whole jazz scene reach a much greater audience as well. The epitome of “hard bop” and “soul jazz”, these recordings captured key moments in the evolution of jazz and made Horace Silver a top attraction on the jazz circuit . To this day, jazz players “quote” his writing and playing and many of the young lions, those emerging jazz musicians who are so celebrated in the popular press, try their best to imitate his compositional devices and to reinvent the Horace Silver sound. Horace, himself, is an extremely gentle, even self-effacing individual. Whereas his playing is forceful and direct, he is almost shy when talking about celebrity and the great historical importance of his music. He becomes animated, however, when talking about his latest projects, the “self-help, holistic, metaphysical music” that has become his life’s work. It is significant to note that when this interview was first broadcast on National Public Radio, we received an extraordinary amount of interest from people all around the country interested in the possibility that music had, quite literally, healing qualities. It’s clear that Horace Silver has once again tapped into a deep well of highly emotional public longing, which in the final analysis, is perhaps his greatest talent. He is truly a “people’s jazz musician”. We spoke one spring day in Los Angeles, not far from his home near the Pacific ocean, but many miles and several musical lifetimes away from his early days as a Jazz Messenger.