John Coltrane-influenced tenor saxophonist David Ware (1949) became the
leading proponent of free jazz after graduating from the groups of
Cecil Taylor (1976) and Andrew Cyrille (1978).
His huge, agile and, at times, frantic sound, first experimented on
Birth of a Being (april 1977) and From Silence to Music (september 1978),
became the pillar of his groups with bassist William Parker and drummer Marc Edwards, first the trio of Passage To Music (april 1988), with The Elders Path, and then the quartet formed with pianist Matthew Shipp that debuted
on the double-CD Great Bliss (january 1990), with Forward Motion, One Two Three and Stritchland.
Ware played tenor sax, flute, saxello and stritch, showcasing not only his
manyfold virtuosity but also his keen instinct for timbral exploration.
Despite the cryptic Infi-Rhythms #1, Flight Of I (december 1991)
smoothed the edges of Ware's free-jazz approach.
Edwards was replaced by Whit Dickey on Third Ear Recitation (october 1992), that contained stronger avant-retro contrasts as well as flights of the imagination such as The Chase.
A more radical approach, and phenomenal playing by Shipp and Parker, turned
Earthquation (may 1994), with Cococana,
and especially Cryptology (december 1994), with
Cryptology, into incendiary shows.
The quartet's form peaked on
Oblations and Blessings (september 1995), with
Oblations and Blessings, and the apparently chaotic
Dao (september 1995), with
Dao Forms and Dao.
Ware's sonic attack was matched by the creative turbulence of Parker, Shipp
If Ware was reenacting John Coltrane's spiritual fervor, Shipp was
charting a territory beyong McCoy Tyner's psychotic exuberance.
The dynamics was breathtaking, with
moments of trance-like transcendence followed by moments of absolute
delirium and by ecstatic pauses.
Susie Ibarra replaced Dickey on
Godspelized (may 1996), an album more influenced by Albert Ayler and
Sun Ra than by Coltrane's legendary group (Godspelized).
Ware's understated compositional style was beginning to emerge more clearly
(as in "there is method in his madness), and Wisdom of Uncertainty (december 1996)
boasted pieces such as Utopic, Continuum and Acclimation
that relied on a powerful logic besides pure energy.
Alas, Go See the World (december 1997) and
Surrendered (october 1999), with
Guillermo Brown replacing Ibarra on drums,
marked a dramatic retreat in
fake free-jazz music for the masses, that dispensed with atonality.
Matthew Shipp toyed with the synthesizer on
Corridors & Parallels (february 2001), hardly a revolutionary step in 2001.
After a mediocre interpretation of Sonny Rollins' Freedom Suite (july 2002),
Ware tried his hand at a String Ensemble
with Shipp on synthesized strings, Mat Maneri on viola, Daniel Bernard Roumain on violin, Parker and Brown, but Threads (april 2003) was more about
Ware trying to become a classical composer than about his free-jazz verve.
Shakti (may 2008) featured Joe Morris on guitar and percussion, William Parker on bass and Warren Smith on drums.
Live in Vilnius (march 2007) documents a
Matthew Shipp (piano) William Parker
(bass) and Guillermo Brown (drums).
Saturnian (Solo Saxophones Volume 1)
(october 2009) contained three lengthy improvisations (one for tenor, one for
saxello and one for stritch).
Theatre Garonne 2008 (may 2008) documents a performance with Joe Morris on guitar, William Parker on contrabass and Warren Smith on drums.
Onecept (december 2009) was improvised in studio by
Ware on tenor sax, saxello
and stritch with bassist William Parker and percussionist Warren Smith.
A quartet with pianist Cooper-Moore, bassist William Parker and drummer Muhammad Ali recorded Planetary Unknown (november 2010), notably the 22-minute Passage Wudang.
Planetary Unknown was also documented on
Live At Jazzfestival Saafelden 2011 (august 2011).
The double-disc Live in New York, 2010 (october 2010) documents the
trio with William Parker on contrabass and Warren Smith on drums.
The Balance (june 2010) documents a live performance with William Parker (bass) and Warren Smith (percussion), mostly devoted to the 42-minute Vision Suite 2010.
Ware died in 2012 at the age of 63.
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