Albers, Homage to the Square: Dense-Soft


Anthony Davis
Song for the Old World
India Navigation : 1978

AD, piano; Jay Hoggard, vibes; Mark Helias, bass; Ed Blackwell, drums.

In our continuing series (now two and a half years old) presenting forward-thinking-musicians-who-nevertheless-feature-the-past, we today present Anthony Davis. As someone whose output has ranged from modern opera to gamelan-inspired jazz, Davis might not be the first person you’d think of to pen an ode to Andrew Hill, and a memorial to the “generation that died.” But that’s what we got here, and the results are truly beautiful.

The anthem approaches languidity — it’s not terribly strong on plot development — but Davis, as ever, brings a strict focus to the material, and the band falls right in behind him. One can hear Davis’ fondness for repetition, and the happy balance he strikes between composition and improvisation, not to mention unconventional song forms. Helias takes a moving solo.

The rhythm section and Davis (and — sure, why not — George Lewis) were all in New Haven together in the 1970s and 1980s.They move as one in the mash note to Andrew Hill, which apes Hill’s penchant for twisted heads without the group losing their own identity. Blackwell’s performance is a particular treat. Check the subhead for the painting above (housed at Yale): dense-soft. Yeah.

For more on the “the other Davis”:

Wednesday night, 1/28, in NY, catch some of Davis’s opera X, plus some Leroy Jenkins compositions, Kurt Weill, &c., all for $10 — check it!

Anthony Davis discussing opera, &c., with George Lewis, Cynthia Aaronson-Davis, Thomas Young, and some middle school students from Chula Vista. From 2001, though Davis’ hair appears at first glance to be stuck in ’78. Weird that Lewis gets no call-out in the description/tags.

Robert Palmer, reviewing Davis’s Episteme in the NY Times, 1981. (Registration and/or subscription might be required.)

While we’re dropping links, we’ll mention that we’ve started a Dest: OUT Facebook group. We welcome all comers. We’re not entirely sure yet how we’ll use this resource (kids, please tell us), but at the least we’ll be able to let any members know about contests or other key posts and news items of interest, and it should allow for more conversation between folks in a way that goes beyond commenting on specific posts. We welcome feedback, too. It’ll remain secondary to the blog, natch, and we promise not to overuse or abuse this new outlet.

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