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Alan Lee Silva
Alan Silva 1969.jpg
Alan Lee Silva in Belgium, 1969
Background information
Birth name Alan Lee da Silva
Born (1939-01-22) 22 January 1939 (age 84)
Bermuda, British Empire
Genres Jazz, free jazz, avant-garde jazz
Occupation(s) Double bassist, songwriter, bandleader, composer, keyboardist
Instruments Upright bass, keyboards, electronic keyboard, trumpet, electric violin, sarangi
Labels BYG Actuel, ESP Disk, Impulse!, Blue Note, (CBS, Sony, Columbia, Soul Note, Black Saint, JAPO, Hathut, MPS, ESP-Disk
Associated acts Cecil Taylor, Archie Shepp, Albert Ayler, Sun Ra, Frank Wright, Bobby Few, Bill Dixon, François Cotinaud, Sunny Murray, Globe Unity Orchestra, Andrew Hill, Dave Burrell

Alan Silva (born Alan Lee da Silva; January 22, 1939 in Bermuda) is an American free jazz double bassist and keyboard player.


Silva was born a British subject to an Azorean/Portuguese mother, Irene da Silva, and a black Bermudian father known only as "Ruby". He emigrated to the United States at the age of five with his mother, eventually acquiring U.S. citizenship by the age of 18 or 19. He adopted the stage name of Alan Silva in his twenties.

Silva was quoted in a Bermudan newspaper in 1988 as saying that although he left the island at a young age, he always considered himself Bermudian. He was raised in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City, where he first began studying the trumpet, and moved on to study the upright bass.

Silva is known as one of the most inventive bass players in jazz and has performed with many in the world of avant-garde jazz, including Cecil Taylor, Sun Ra, Albert Ayler, Sunny Murray, and Archie Shepp.

Silva performed in 1964's October Revolution in Jazz as a pioneer in the free jazz movement, and for Ayler's Live in Greenwich Village album. He has lived mainly in Paris since the early 1970s, where he formed the Celestrial Communication Orchestra, a group dedicated to the performance of free jazz with various instrumental combinations. In the 1990s he picked up the electronic keyboard, declaring that his bass playing no longer surprised him. He has also used the electric violin and electric sarangi on his recordings.

In the 1980s, Silva opened a music school I.A.C.P. (Institute for Art, Culture and Perception) in Central Paris, introducing the concept of a Jazz Conservatory patterned after France's traditional conservatories devoted to European classical music epochs.

Since around 2000, he has performed more frequently as a bassist and bandleader, notably at New York City's annual Vision Festivals.


As leader or co-leader

Recording date Album Label Release date Personnel
1968-11-01 Skillfulness ESP-Disk 1969 With Karl Berger, Dave Burrell, Becky Friend, Mike Ephron, Lawrence Cooke
1969-08-17 Luna Surface BYG 1969 With the Celestrial Communication Orchestra
1970-12-29 Seasons BYG 1971 With the Celestrial Communication Orchestra
1971-01-01 My Country Leo 1989 With the Celestrial Communication Orchestra
1974-09-01 Inner Song Center of the World 1974 Solo bass, piano, organ, and voice
1978-11-01 The Shout - Portrait for a Small Woman Chiaroscuro 1979 With the Celestrial Communication Orchestra
1982-06-25 Desert Mirage IACP 1982 With the Celestrial Communication Orchestra
1986-11-23 Take Some Risks In Situ 1989 With Roger Turner, Misha Lobko, Didier Petit, Bruno Girard
1993-04-14 In the Tradition In Situ 1996 With Johannes Bauer and Roger Turner
1998-03-06 A Hero's Welcome: Pieces for Rare Occasions Eremite 1999 With William Parker
1999-05-29 Emancipation Suite Boxholder 2002 With Kidd Jordan and William Parker
1999-05-31 Alan Silva & the Sound Visions Orchestra Eremite 2001 With the Sound Visions Orchestra
1999-10-16 Transmissions Eremite 1999 With Oluyemi Thomas
2000-12-01 The All-Star Game Eremite 2003 With Marshall Allen, Kidd Jordan, William Parker, and Hamid Drake
2001-05-24 H.Con.Res.57/Treasure Box Eremite 2003 With the Celestrial Communication Orchestra
2006-11-01 Stinging Nettles Improvising Beings 2014 With Lucien Johnson and Makoto Sato
2008-08-28 Parallel Worlds Long Song 2012 With Burton Greene
2009-08-29 Crimson Lip Improvising Beings 2011 With Keiko Higuchi, Sabu Toyozumi, Takuo Tanikawa
2011-04-17 Plug In Multikulti Project 2013 With Roger Turner
2014-07-21 Free Electric Band Fortune 2016 With Mette Rasmussen and Ståle Liavik Solberg
2014-11-22 FreeJazzArt RogueArt 2014 With Jacques Coursil

As sideman


  • 2001 - Inside Out in the Open (2001). Directed by Alan Roth.
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