Alan Silva

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

Alan Lee Silva
Alan Lee Silva in Belgium, 1969
Background information
Birth nameAlan Lee da Silva
Born (1939-01-22) 22 January 1939
Bermuda, British Empire
GenresJazz, free jazz, avant-garde jazz
Occupation(s)Double bassist, songwriter, bandleader, composer, keyboardist
InstrumentsUpright bass, keyboards, electronic keyboard, trumpet, electric violin, sarangi
LabelsBYG Actuel, ESP Disk, Impulse!, Blue Note, (CBS, Sony, Columbia, Soul Note, Black Saint, JAPO, Hathut, MPS, ESP-Disk
Associated actsCecil Taylor, Archie Shepp, Albert Ayler, Sun Ra, Frank Wright, Bobby Few, Bill Dixon, François Cotinaud, Sunny Murray, Globe Unity Orchestra, Andrew Hill, Dave Burrell
WebsiteAlan Silva discography from Center of the World site


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.[1]

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.[1]

Silva is known as one of the most inventive bass players in jazz[2] and has performed with many in the world of avant-garde jazz, including Cecil Taylor, Sun Ra, Albert Ayler, Sunny Murray, and Archie Shepp.[3][4]

Silva performed in 1964's October Revolution 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.[2] 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.[5]

In the 1980s Silva opened a music school in Central Paris, introducing the concept of a Jazz Conservatory patterned after France's traditional conservatories devoted to European classical music epochs.[6]

Since around 2000 he has performed more frequently as a bassist and bandleader, notably at New York City's annual Vision Festivals.[4]


As leader

As sideman

with Albert Ayler

with Sun Ra

with Cecil Taylor

with Sunny Murray

with Shipen Lebzelter

  • Rock and Other Four Letter Words (Columbia)

with Archie Shepp

with Grachan Moncur III

with William Parker

with Dave Burrell

with Jimmy Lyons

with Francois Tusques

  • Intercommunal Music (Shandar)

with Frank Wright

with Bobby Few

with Bill Dixon

with Franz Koglmann

  • Opium For Franz (Pipe)

with Andrew Hill

with the Globe Unity Orchestra

  • Intergalactic Blow (JAPO)

with Abdelhai Bennani

  • Enfance (Marge)
  • Entrelacs (Tampon Ramier)
  • New Today, New Everyday (Improvising Beings)
  • Free Form Improvisation Ensemble 2013 (Improvising Beings)

with Itaru Oki

  • Paris-Ohraï (Ohraï)


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


  1. "Silva Interview". Retrieved 2015-10-29.
  2. Wynn, Ron. "Biography: Alan Silva". Allmusic. Retrieved 7 July 2010.
  3. "Alan Silva". Discogs. Retrieved 2015-10-29.
  4. "Music | Free man". Archived from the original on 2015-10-09. Retrieved 2015-10-29.
  5. Weiss, Jason (2012-05-01). Always in Trouble: An Oral History of ESP-Disk', the Most Outrageous Record Label in America. Wesleyan University Press. ISBN 9780819571601.
  6. "Alan Silva @ All About Jazz". All About Jazz. Retrieved 2015-10-29.
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