Anthony Davis


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Written as music to accompany the choreography of Molissa Fenley, Anthony Davis followed the huge artistic (if not commercial) success of his albums Episteme and Variations in Dreamtime with yet another wonderful recording along similar lines. Using many of the same musicians and, in fact, recycling some of the same thematic material (as he was to do often in his career), Davis once again finds enormous richness and power in a territory straddling advanced jazz and contemporary minimalism, here even enjoining the services of Steve Reich's violinist of choice, Shem Guibbory. The compositions combine propulsive, oddly metered rhythms with fascinating and often gorgeous melodies including, especially his bitterly beautiful "A Walk in the Shadows," here given arguably its finest, most intense performance with Guibbory doing gut-wrenching work. The ensemble is incredibly tight and features superb playing by, among others, trumpeter Leo Smith and trombonist George Lewis. The cover painting by Francesco Clemente and the portrait photograph by Robert Mapplethorpe indicate how closely Davis was becoming involved with the New York avant-garde in the early '80s. This would lead to an increased "classicalization" of his work, largely to its detriment, in oncoming years, and Hemispheres would prove to be perhaps his last unqualified success. Very highly recommended.

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