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Thursday, March 30, 2023

Anthony Davis, X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Odyssey Opera, Gil Rose


Anthony Davis is a Contemporary Jazz pianist and bandleader and a New Music composer of original stature. His first opera X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X has garnered acclaim and appreciation since its premiere some years ago. And now there is a new version, a most welcome addition by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project and Odyssey Opera directed by Gil Rose. All has led to a two-CD recording (BMOP Sound 1088) I have been listening to of late, so I now report in.

The opera covers Malcolm's existence from a streetwise urbanity, to conversion and the Nation of Islam, travel and enlightenment and the apocalyptic last days, all within a musical realm that is Jazz influenced, post-Modern at times and otherwise very expanded and musically advanced throughout.

The singers and orchestra turn in an idiomatic and stylistic gem and the opera is unforgettable and vital all at once.

Stream the recording on the BandCamp site. Highly recommended.

This was nominated for a Grammy, happily, for it deserves such attention. 

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