A. Davis / Anthony Davis

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

  • AllMusic Rating
    4
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

Anthony Davis: X, The Life and Times of Malcolm X Review

by Brian Olewnick

An extraordinarily ambitious idea and an event that received relatively huge publicity for a composition by an avant-garde jazz musician, Anthony Davis' modern opera depicting the career and philosophy of Malcolm X unfortunately failed to live up to its great promise. The libretto, written by the composer's sister, the writer Thulani Davis, is essentially biographical, concentrating on key events in the life of the subject and allowing him, as ably sung by Eugene Perry, to expostulate on the century's racial ills while undergoing his own self-evolution. It's effective as far as it goes, though rarely as stirring as one would hope. Most of the blame for this must be laid on Davis and the musical style he chose for his vocal writing. Instead of a colloquial form where Malcolm's affinity to his community and his own roots might have been more clearly portrayed, he chose a declamatory, strident form that owes far more to contemporary "serious" European models than to jazz forms. Indeed, this is a problem throughout much of the work. While he had assembled a wonderful cast of supporting musicians to offset and accompany a standard orchestra, they too often feel hemmed in and, with a few exceptions, show little of the spontaneity and creativity that many of them had contributed to earlier Davis recordings like Episteme; fans of his work will notice the exhumation of several of his favorite themes herein. Davis had been increasingly feted by the New York contemporary arts crowd during the '80s and his work had taken on more and more of an academic tinge during the same time. While there are still traces of his early vibrancy to be found, X has gone far enough over to the "uptown" end of the spectrum to be ultimately disappointing and somewhat sterile.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
X, the Life and Times of Malcolm X, opera
1 A. Davis / Anthony Davis 01:23 Amazon
2 A. Davis / Anthony Davis 04:40 Amazon
3 A. Davis / Anthony Davis 02:24 Amazon
4 A. Davis / Anthony Davis feat: Priscilla Baskerville 08:28 Amazon
5 A. Davis / Anthony Davis 02:39 Amazon
6 A. Davis / Anthony Davis 02:36 Amazon
7 A. Davis / Anthony Davis 03:08 Amazon
8 A. Davis / Anthony Davis feat: Hilda Harris 08:19 Amazon
9 A. Davis / Anthony Davis feat: Thomas J. Young 06:25 Amazon
10 A. Davis / Anthony Davis feat: Thomas J. Young 05:26 Amazon
11 A. Davis / Anthony Davis feat: Richard Byrne 02:16 Amazon
12 A. Davis / Anthony Davis feat: Eugene Perry 08:28 Amazon
13 A. Davis / Anthony Davis feat: Eugene Perry / Herbert Perry 11:50 Amazon
14 A. Davis / Anthony Davis feat: Eugene Perry / Herbert Perry / Thomas J. Young 02:27 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
X, the Life and Times of Malcolm X, opera
1 A. Davis / Anthony Davis feat: Eugene Perry / Thomas J. Young 04:59 Amazon
2 A. Davis / Anthony Davis feat: Eugene Perry / Thomas J. Young 02:13 Amazon
3 A. Davis / Anthony Davis 02:10 Amazon
4 A. Davis / Anthony Davis 01:05 Amazon
5 A. Davis / Anthony Davis feat: Eugene Perry 08:55 Amazon
6 A. Davis / Anthony Davis feat: Eugene Perry 06:04 Amazon
7 A. Davis / Anthony Davis feat: Eugene Perry 03:29 Amazon
8 A. Davis / Anthony Davis 02:03 Amazon
9 A. Davis / Anthony Davis feat: Eugene Perry / Thomas J. Young 07:17 Amazon
10 A. Davis / Anthony Davis feat: Priscilla Baskerville 05:33 Amazon
11 A. Davis / Anthony Davis feat: Eugene Perry 11:55 Amazon
12 A. Davis / Anthony Davis feat: Eugene Perry 04:33 Amazon
13 A. Davis / Anthony Davis feat: Eugene Perry / Herbert Perry / Thomas J. Young 06:31 Amazon
14 A. Davis / Anthony Davis feat: Eugene Perry 01:30 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick