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JSngry

Anthony Davis - X, The Life and Times of Malcolm X

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Avoided this for years (decades) for various reasons, many of which had to do with the perceived (by me, in ignorance, etc.) neither-fish-nor-fowl thing, especially the notion of hearing Malcolm's voice as Opera Hero.

But, you live long enough, and you can find a tempting price and next thing you know, hey why not?

So...I still don't dig a lot of the libretto, not for content per se, but just because I can't get my head around hearing that like that, if you know what I mean. But somebody could, and did. So fuck me on that one.

However, life as a Young Jazz Musician musician has taught me to ignore the words to songs, and when doing that, I think we have something here. And in fact, getting into Act III, when the concept/focus becomes more "universal" and less "biographical", then, yeah, for some reason the words started becoming hearable again. And then we really have something.

Not for everybody's taste, to be sure, but I was surprised how much of this reached out and grabbed me the first time around. Going back and reading contemporaneous reviews, what strikes me is how much focus there was on the same concerns that I had harbored (which really comes down to, I Was Expecting THIS And Got THAT, Uhhhh....), and almost no celebration of how much goes right (which is not everything, but is still quite a bit).

Anybody else visited/revisited this lately? And maybe I need to go back and check out Anthony Davis some more. It's been awhile, he's faded from fashion, and doesn't he keep it that way a fair bit himself these days?

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Saw / met him at the Chicago fest with Wadada's show. Seems to be a great guy and I feel guilty for ignoring him earlier.

Edited by Chuck Nessa

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I bought the recording of X when it came out, and took to it right away. I love an opera in which the cats get a chance to blow. As to the libretto, my problem with it is that cleans up Malcom X a bit - the most shocking thing he says in the opera is the "chickens have come home to roost" line about Kennedy's assassination. Other Anthony Davis I have found to be a mixed bag. I got rid of several albums, but enjoy others. The I've Known Rivers album with James Newton and Abdul Wadud has been mentioned several times here lately - I really like the lesser-known follow up by the same group - Trio2.

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I need to revisit this; I remember liking it more than Tania, the other opera of his that I own. I really like Davis, especially his early albums on India Navigation. He did a duet album with Jason Robinson a couple of years ago, but he doesn't seem to be very active, and I wish he would do some new small group recordings.

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However, life as a Young Jazz Musician musician has taught me to ignore the words to songs,

I'm astonished! Really.

Is that normal for jazz musicians?

MG

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I was lucky enough to hang out with Anthony Davis for a couple of days when he came to the London Jazz Festival with Wadada last year...a really great guy, and his playing was magnificent. In addition to those mentioned, I love albums like 'Of Blues and Dreams' (w/Jenkins, Wadud, Pheeroan - in other words, what could possibly go wrong?)...and actually, 'Lady of the Mirrors' is one of the absolutely top drawer of solo piano albums I can think of...love him as sideman too, whether with Wadada (Golden Quartet; but 'Song of Humanity' is a real favourite too), or on that Braxton quartet album with Helias/Blackwell...

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However, life as a Young Jazz Musician musician has taught me to ignore the words to songs,

I'm astonished! Really.

Is that normal for jazz musicians?

MG

Sorry, more of that dry humor. I've always enjoyed lyrics.

But unfortunately, I think it is normal these days.

There was mention made earlier of "Tania"...is that based on the Patty Hearst kidnapping? Seems like I've heard that it was. Now there's a plot in need of an opera!

Also, going back to X - the liners state that librettist Thulani Davis was then married to Joseph Jarman. Are they still together?

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I seem to remember a piano concerto of Davis' (with the Kansas City Symphony, probably initially why I first picked it up), which I remember having enjoyed. Not sure if I kept it when I trimmed 2,000 discs before moving to DC -- I should look this week. (I was ruthless in what I cut from my classical CD's -- over half my classical got the axe.)

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Yes Jim, "Tania" is based on the Patty Hearst story.

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Also, going back to X - the liners state that librettist Thulani Davis was then married to Joseph Jarman. Are they still together?

It was her that spread this a while ago:

www.organissimo.org/forum/index.php?/topic/67430-joseph-jarman-seriously-ill/

(Why can't dumphones create working links when they're so smart?)

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Glad to hear they're still together, just because...

Also ordered a copy of Tania. Like I said, the premise alone is operatic enough for me, although whether or not it will equal the Drunk History recounting of the Hearst Kidnapping (never mind the real time experiencing of it) in sheer....something is still up in the air.

Nevertheless, the titles alone give rise to a hope that something is gonna happen: http://www.allmusic.com/album/anthony-davis-tania-mw0001825180

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I was lucky enough to hang out with Anthony Davis for a couple of days when he came to the London Jazz Festival with Wadada last year...a really great guy, and his playing was magnificent. In addition to those mentioned, I love albums like 'Of Blues and Dreams' (w/Jenkins, Wadud, Pheeroan - in other words, what could possibly go wrong?)...and actually, 'Lady of the Mirrors' is one of the absolutely top drawer of solo piano albums I can think of...love him as sideman too, whether with Wadada (Golden Quartet; but 'Song of Humanity' is a real favourite too), or on that Braxton quartet album with Helias/Blackwell...

That Braxton is such a killer. He hooked (back) up with Crispell very soon after so it shakes out alright, but I do wish he did more with Davis; he takes to Braxton's music really well.

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Second for Lady of the Mirrors!

I've also enjoyed his work with James Newton and Abdul Wadud. Episteme is also a great record, moving in the direction of his later orchestral suites.

Need to check out the operas.

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I still remember "X-cerpts" in San Francisco, Anthony with an incredible edition of Episteme, decades ago!

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I saw him in a duet concert with James Newton in Ann arbor in 1979 which was very compelling and beautiful. I second the praise for the trio albums with Newton and Wadud.

Edited by Hot Ptah

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I will have to go back and listening; nice guy, fine pianist, but I always found his own music a little bit.....dull.

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19 minutes ago, Mark Stryker said:

There was still yet another reason for making the opera, one that resonated with Malcolm X’s own advocacy of black economic self-determination: to create jobs for black opera singers otherwise limited to a career of “Porgy and Bess.” Black singers, Davis said at the time, “are dying to do opera, demanding operatic roles . . . I thought I was providing a great opportunity for twenty-eight singers.”

Cannonball smiles.

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32 minutes ago, JSngry said:

There was still yet another reason for making the opera, one that resonated with Malcolm X’s own advocacy of black economic self-determination: to create jobs for black opera singers otherwise limited to a career of “Porgy and Bess.” Black singers, Davis said at the time, “are dying to do opera, demanding operatic roles . . . I thought I was providing a great opportunity for twenty-eight singers.”

Cannonball smiles.

Nailed it.

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