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  Words and Silences
  Brian Harnetty
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Let me start out by saying that i love this release and think it is brilliant. I also think that most people will be annoyed by it. Words and Silences is a different kind of release, and that makes it a little challenging to discuss, to evaluate.

For Words and Silences minimalist composer David Harnetty has recorded chamber jazz and layered it with some tape recordings that Catholic monk and writer Thomas Merton made towards the end of his life. That's it: sparse music sometimes behind a voice, and sometimes swelling up to fill the gaps between passages.

It's almost a spoken word album, in a way. It is Brother Merton, talking to himself, experimenting with how things sound, and thinking out loud about subjects he was writing on. There is a piece about Michel Foucault (Let There Be a Moving Mosaic of This Rich Material), a section of him reading Samuel Becket (Sound of an Unperplexed Wren), and several where he discusses the twelfth century Spanish Sufi theologian Ibn al-Arabi (Who Is This I? and Breath Water Silence). There is even a section of him talking about his love of Jazz in New Year's Eve Party of One where, after listening to a record by Mary Lou Williams, he says, "This music has a kind of paradise character and a certain purity of its own."

It's a fascinating listen, to hear the thought processes of a deep thinker (who might very well be a Saint some day), and to hear them wrapped up in music that i think he would have appreciated.

Now, that said, i have to provide a few reasons why what i just wrote might be a little biased. You see, i was raised Catholic in Central Ohio (my allergist was in the same city that Mr. Harnetty calls home!), and i studied Philosophy in college, before i was a music writer. So: Ohio jazz with a Catholic thinker talking about philosophy is very on target for me. Your mileage may vary, but i really think that this is a beautiful release that deserves wider listening.

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