Alan Silva

HR57, Vol. 2

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Following on from HR57, Vol. 1, the second volume of this four-disc set (whose title refers to a resolution passed in the U.S. Congress in 1987 designating jazz as a "rare and valuable national American treasure") documents the latter part of a concert given by the 23-piece Celestrial Communication Orchestra under the direction of Alan Silva in Poschiavo, Switzerland, on May 24, 2001. The opening "HR57, Vol. 1" is a setting of the text of the resolution itself, originally introduced by Rep. John Conyers from Michigan, which vocalist Ijeoma Thomas uses as a springboard for some daring vocal declamations, recalling the late Sun Ra vocalist June Tyson. Silva's conduction (a technique he started developing many years before Lawrence "Butch" Morris coined the term) consists as much of shouting out cues to the players as it does hand gestures, screaming out like a crazed Indian guru the outlines of rhythmic cells for the band to play. The accompanying essay by Ed Hazell provides valuable background information on the project and its place in Silva's oeuvre, but should not distract from the overwhelming impact of the listening experience. The elegiac closing "What Is Your Name?," accompanied by delicious arabesques from pianist Bobby Few, reads like a hall of fame of American free jazz (including William Parker, Karen Borca, Marshall Allen, and Kidd Jordan -- to name but four), and they are all in blistering form throughout.

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