Listen To The Silence
Listen To The Silence - A Mass For Our Time
01. Event I 6:31
02. Event II 8:19
03. Event III 16:18
04. Event IV 13:56
Bass [Double] – Arild Andersen
Bass [Electric] – Bjornar Andresen
Composed By – George Russell
Guitar [Electric] – Terje Rypdal
Organ – Webster Lewis
Percussion – Jon Christensen
Piano [Electric] – Bobo Stenson
Saxophone [Tenor] – Jan Garbarek
Timpani – George Russell
Trumpet – Stanton Davis
Voice [Alto] – Joyce Gippo, Kay Dunlap
Voice [Bass] – Dan Windham, Don Hovey, Don Kendrick
Voice [Soprano] – Gailanne Cummings, Sue Auclair
Voice [Tenor] – David Dusing, Ray Hardin
From back cover:
"Listen to the Silence" was commissioned by the Norwegian Cultural Fund for the 1971 Kongsberg Jazz Festival, specifically for performance in the Kongsberg Church in Kongsberg, Norway. This is the "live" recording of the premiere held at the church on June 26, 1971.
The choir is the Chorus of the Musikk Konservatoriet of Oslo with Supplementary Chorus from the New England Conservatory of Music.
"Listen to the Silence" was commissioned by the Norwegian Cultural Fund for the 1971 Kongsberg Jazz Festival, specifically for performance in the Kongsberg Church in Kongsberg, Norway. This is the "live" recording of the premiere held at the church on June 26, 1971. The choir is the Chorus of the Musikk Konservatoriet of Oslo with Supplementary Chorus from the New England Conservatory of Music.
"This CD really stinks," emphasizes one public commentary on the subject. To another listener, Russell created "a harrowing work of conscience." Defined in the dictionary as "extremely distressing" or an "act of plunder," the word is a more than suitable description for the experience fans of Norwegian jazz have when embroiled in the Russell controversy.
The composer's accomplices here are young musicians from the expensive northern land who would go on to build an international fan base with their ECM recording activities. Terje Rypdal and Jan Garbarek -- guitarist and saxophonist, respectively, both with sounds capable of killing a squirrel at 30 feet -- are the best known of the crowd involved in this performance. The problem is they don't have much to do, at least that is audible in the mix, Russell having gone in another direction from Duke Ellington's concept of setting extended pieces around talented soloists.
A non-Scandanavian in the crowd is Webster Lewis, creator of a series of instrumental disco hits only a few years later that would have probably made Russell sick to his stomach. Lewis also worked as Barry White's music director, so -- voila! -- a missing link between that big love machine and the controversial Russell.
The piece belongs to the canon of composition -- prevalent in most all genres although perhaps not disco that makes hay with unfortunate political events, in this case the Vietnam war and genocide committed against native Americans. A classical chorus was brought in from the Oslo music conservatory, even that wasn't enough mouths for all the controversy so Russell added almost 10 more singers. These voices proclaim excerpts from Dee Brown's Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee as well as excerpts from texts by Rainer Maria Rilke. The implications, interpretations, and sentiments involved in this work are thus all laid out very clearly, an aesthetic act that some listeners find equivalent to having their mouths packed with wet cement.
The jazz orchestra behind it all is Russell's forte, sometimes squashing the chorus as flat as Indian fry bread. He uses the orchestra as if granted the use of a dozen arms with which to re-enact all of Buddy Rich's Newport Jazz Festival drum solos not just simultaneously but in vertical form, as the man says. Pinpointing these moments of enlightenment in the Russell discography is a challenge worth taking, although the listener's head by the end may feel like the results of all-night bar-hopping. Listening to Listen to the Silence is an experience everyone ought to have at least once, although by the end they may rue having entered this particular tavern.