Horace Silvers enduring legend and continual creative pursuit of new of new music are the drive behind his career. Rockin With Rachmaninoff keeps the ball rolling and its not slowing down.
Silver's earliest musical influence was the Cape Verdean folk music he heard from his Portugese-born father. Later, after he had begun playing piano and saxophone as a high schooler, Silver came under the spell of blues singers and boogie-woogie pianists, as well as boppers like Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell. In 1950, Stan Getz played a concert in Hartford, Connecticut, with a pickup rhythm section that included Silver, drummer Walter Bolden, and bassist Joe Calloway. So impressed was Getz, he hired the whole trio. Silver had been saving his money to move to New York anyway; his hiring by Getz sealed the deal. Silver worked with Getz for a year, then began to freelance around the city with such big-time players as Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, and Oscar Pettiford. In 1952, he recorded with Lou Donaldson for the Blue Note label; this date led him to his first recordings as a leader. In 1953, he joined forces with Art Blakey to form a cooperative under their joint leadership. The band's first album, Horace Silver and the Jazz Messengers, was a milestone in the development of the genre that came to be known as hard bop. Many of the tunes penned by Silver for that record "The Preacher," "Doodlin'," "Room 608" became jazz classics and have been performed and recorded by many musicians including Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Dizzy Gillespie among others. These same songs set a new standard in using soul in jazz. By 1956, Silver had left the Messengers to record on his own. The series of Blue Note albums that followed established Silver for all time as one of jazz's major composer/pianists. LPs like Blowin' the Blues Away and Song for My Father (both recorded by an ensemble which included Silver's longtime sidemen Blue Mitchell and Junior Cook) featured Silver's harmonically sophisticated and formally distinctive compositions for small jazz ensemble.
The concept of "Rockin With Rachmaninoff" is based on a dream of Silvers in which Duke Ellington and Rachmaninoff meet in heaven. Rachmaninoff is then introduced to many jazz greats such as Louis Armstrong, Thelonious Monk, Coleman Hawkins, Muddy Waters, Mahalia Jackson and many others. These jazzy tales converge many of the great styles largely pioneered by Silver.