The music of pianist, improvisor and composer Anthony Davis eludes easy categorization. Active in a variety of media, including operatic, symphonic, choral, chamber, dance, theater, and improvised musics, Davis has focused upon the integration of improvised and notated expressive resources. His work embodies an intercultural approach, drawing not only upon traditional and current African-American sources, but upon the Javanese gamelan, American Minimalism, and the European and Euro-American avant-garde.
His fourth and most recent opera, AMISTAD, based on the slave ship uprising of 1839 and the subsequent trial, premiered at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in November of 1997, with libretto by Thulani Davis and direction by New York Public Theater artistic director George C. Wolfe. His first and best-known opera, X: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF MALCOLM X, with libretto by Thulani Davis, premiered at the New York City Opera in 1986.