Reviews that mention David S. Ware

October 12, 2012

William Parker

Centering: Unreleased Early Recordings 1976–1987
NoBusiness NBCD 42-47

Something In the Air: Discovering Long Hidden Advanced Jazz

By Ken Waxman

When New York’s now justly famous, Vision Festival first took place in 1996 committed jazz fans greeted the event as if they were witnessing a full-fledged musical resurrection. So many advanced players of unbridled free form and experimental sounds were involved that the annual festival soon became a crowded week-long summer happening. Ironically – which was one reason for the Fest’s popularity – these probing sounds and its players were supposed to have vanished after the revolutionary 1960s, superseded first by Jazz-Rock pounders’ simple melodies and then jazz’s Young Lions who aped the sounds and sartorial choices of the 1950s – both of which had major record label support. Still bassist/composer/bandleader William Parker’s Centering: Unreleased Early Recordings 1976–1987 NoBusiness NBCD 42-47 aptly demonstrates, experimental sounds never vanished; they just went underground. As the 24 often lengthy tracks that make up this 6-CD set of hitherto unreleased material substantiates in its breadth of performances, sonically questing players were improvising and composing during those so-called lost years. But it took the founding of the Vision Festival by Parker and his wife, dancer/choreographer Patricia Nicholson, to provide the proper medium for this work. Major stylists such as saxophonists Charles Gayle and David S. Ware, vocalist Ellen Christi and trumpeter Roy Campbell, all of whom are represented in the set, would go on to mentor a multiplying groundswell of younger rule stretchers and future Vision Fest participants. Also, despite being professionally recorded, the conservative climate of the times, plus the cost of producing and distributing LPs, left the tapes used for these CDs stacked in performers’ apartments. Now the belated release of Centering fills in a blank in jazz history, equivalent to what coming across a cache of unreleased John Cage or Morton Feldman recordings would do. Included in the package is an attractively designed 66-page paperback book with vintage photos, posters and sketches along with essays discussing the background of the sessions, the musicians’ experiences and the New York scene. MORE

September 12, 2005


Live in the World
Thirsty Ear THI 57153.2

David S. Ware doesn’t shy away from the Free Jazz label. Unlike some contemporary improvisers who say they play Free Music and treat jazz the way nouveau riche yuppies view acquaintances still wearing last year’s clothes, the tenor saxophonist esteems the tradition that goes back through 1960s New Thing to take in distinctive reed stylists such as Sonny Rollins and before that Coleman Hawkins.

This three-CD set of live performances helps stake his claim as one of the foremost jazz tenor saxophone stylist in the 21st century. Made up of one 1998 Swiss concert and two Italian gigs from 2003, it features three different drummers: the band’s former trapsperson, Susie Ibarra; its present one Guillermo E. Brown; and Hamid Drake, the gentleman from Chicago who often plays with the quartet’s longtime bassist William Parker. Ware’s tough love jazz values are such that they run roughshod over any tendency towards electronica or world music in which some of the other players have indulged at other times. The three hours of music also confirm Ware’s status as a major league jazzer. MORE

March 3, 2003


Freedom Suite
AUM Fidelity AUM 023

Performing and recording the music of another innovator is probably the most profound challenge a jazzman can face. Especially difficult is reinterpreting a piece that brings forth memories of the originator every time it’s played; and this predicament doubles when the piece involved is programmatic, rather than just one tune.

Through careful planning and -- to be honest -- luck, tenor saxophonist David S. Ware and his quartet have avoided these pitfalls with their version of Sonny Rollins’ FREEDOM SUITE, originally done in 1958. For a start, unlike Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk -- to name three other jazz stars whose works are constantly being recast -- no one else has tried to take on Rollins’ masterwork. Additionally, although the piece itself presaged a group of equally important thematic Pan African and Black Nationalist compositions by Max Roach -- who also played on the disc -- Charles Mingus and Coltrane, the suite itself is mostly based on tone and dynamic variations, rather than definitive motifs. MORE