Anthony Davis: Wayang No. 5


Wayang No. 5


Anthony Davis (piano)


The Ghost Factory (Gramavision 79429)

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Anthony Davis (piano),

and the Kansas City Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William McLaughlin


Composed by Anthony Davis


Recorded: The Lyric Theater, Kansas City, April 1987 and May 1988


Rating: 90/100 (learn more)

The history of jazz piano and composition has always been maximalist, almost as a core principle. Jelly Roll Morton started borrowing and incorporating everything he could find into his music a hundred years ago, and the expansionary policy hasn't been renounced by any of his successors. Somehow Davis manages to stay true to this tradition, while using hypnotically repeated rhythms with a quasi-minimalist flavor as the foundation for this composition. But Davis also finds sustenance in many other places, from gamelan music to atonality. At times, it is hard to pin down this artist's true allegiances, and fans have been as likely to hear his work in an opera house or Broadway theater as in a jazz club or symphony hall. There are moments on Wayang No. 5 where he sounds like Philip Glass on acid. But then Davis will shift gears entirely, putting on a Cecil Taylor attitude or dipping into a Muhal Richard Abrams bag. But his music is entirely free from the conventional or trite, and his best work can be riveting.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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