Alan Silva

HR57, Vol. 3

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On May 27, 2001, conductor and synthesizer player Alan Silva convened his 23-piece Celestrial Communication Orchestra for the second of two appearances at the Uncool Festival in Poschiavo, Switzerland (the first of which was documented on the albums HR57, Vol. 1 and HR57, Vol. 2). With a lineup that reads like manna from heaven to aficionados of free jazz, it's hardly surprising that it takes vocalist Ijeoma Thomas several minutes to introduce the all-star band on "Amplitude, Pt. 1," while Silva lays down brooding chords on his synth. As on Vol. 1, "Amplitude, Pt. 2" follows without a break, but whereas the piece began explosively on HR57, Vol. 1, the chordal raw material here is introduced after a thrilling crescendo. Somewhat more lyrical (though no less intense) than the earlier version, "Amplitude, Pt. 2" leaves plenty of space for the soloists to stretch out before Thomas returns to intone the text of the 1987 resolution passed by the U.S. Congress designating jazz as a "rare and valuable national American treasure." Though Silva's conduction aims for -- and achieves -- maximum flexibility in terms of structure, it also admits occasional hard-swinging passages and, most importantly, leaves the last word to the musicians themselves. The excessively long accompanying essay by Matthew Goodheart, though informative in places, imparts little of substance compared to the monumental performances on offer throughout the album, which finishes somewhat abruptly -- for the simple reason that the rest of the evening's music is to be found on the final volume of the set, HR57, Vol. 4.

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