WASHINGTON: Jazz pianist and composer Horace Silver, a pioneer in the development of hard bop in the 1950s, died on Wednesday, Blue Note records said.
"Horace passed away this morning at 85 years of age," the famed jazz label said in a statement, while NPR public radio -- quoting Silver's son -- said he passed away due to natural causes.
Born in Connecticut as Horace Ward Martin Tavares Silva into a family with roots in Cape Verde, Silver was influenced at an early age by folk music from the Portuguese-speaking islands off West Africa.
He started off playing tenor saxophone, but later adopted the piano, toured with sax man Stan Getz and settled in New York, where he began a 25-year relationship with Blue Note records.
His first album, with his Jazz Messengers combo, is regarded as a milestone in the development of hard bop, which drew inspiration from rhythm and blues, gospel and blues.
"Silver's piano style -- terse, imaginative, and utterly funky -- became a model for subsequent mainstream pianists to emulate," said Blue Note in a profile of the artist on its website.
His many classic songs include "Doodlin'," "Senor Blues," "Sister Sadie," "Peace" and "Song for My Father."