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Jazz - Released November 15, 2019 | AUM Fidelity

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Free Jazz & Avant-Garde - Released February 2, 2014 | AUM Fidelity

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Free Jazz & Avant-Garde - Released September 15, 1998 | Columbia

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Free Jazz & Avant-Garde - Released February 9, 2005 | AUM Fidelity

When David S. Ware plays his distinctive tenor saxophone, one cannot help but think he is a direct disciple of John Coltrane, Archie Shepp, and David Murray. His edgy, dour, and dynamic sound retains a verve, control, and balance that many free improvisers cannot claim. This effort is inspired by the same spiritual precepts from India that inspired Coltrane in his later life, resulting in long drawn-out discourses that emphasize expressionism rather than pure melodic invention. Fans of this style expect nothing less, and when teamed with Top Five bassist William Parker, the veteran drummer Warren Smith, and the always innovative and diffusely rendered guitar of Joe Morris, Ware is able to cut loose whenever he feels the need, which is generally always. The opening "Crossing Samsara" goes from a brief blues swing to furious free bop, accented by the ever growing persona of Morris as a uniquely driven guitar master. Even at 18-plus minutes, "Nataraj" keeps an even pace and controlled tone, neither crossing an abstract nor distorted line. Parker's deft ostinato in 6/8 time gets the ball rolling, while Ware and Morris construct numerous call-and-response clips of chatty vocal-like sounds. Everyone gets a substantial solo, with Smith at the top of his game and Parker using his bowed bass to haunting effect. The three-part suite "Shakti" develops from clarion calls to arms, switching from short melody bursts to solo tenor, silence, and a hard bop coda. The most arresting jazz-oriented piece, "Antidromic" is based on a precept perfected by Ornette Coleman in its approximate note unison from Ware and Morris, leading to hard free bop. One changeup includes the ballad "Reflection," where Ware's fluid dynamics and terse but not abrasive style are showcased fully, with Morris entering later. The other -- "Namah" -- is perhaps the most multiethnic piece, as Ware plays the mbira/kalimba/thumb piano aside Parker's bowed harmonic overtures, darting and dancing, or calmly meditative. Those who enjoy the music of David S. Ware can easily relate to this excellent recording of his new music concept, backed by equally extraordinary players who perfectly understand his vision and purpose. ~ Michael G. Nastos
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Free Jazz & Avant-Garde - Released February 7, 2014 | AUM Fidelity

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Free Jazz & Avant-Garde - Released March 9, 2010 | AUM Fidelity

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Free Jazz & Avant-Garde - Released November 6, 2015 | AUM Fidelity

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Free Jazz & Avant-Garde - Released April 7, 2000 | Columbia

David S. Ware's second Columbia release is characteristically aggressive and anguished, but it is not atonal. The album features four Ware originals, all of which possess clear compositional form and harmonic structure. Ware's solos may be filled with squawks and wails -- hallmarks of free jazz -- but he is making the chord changes. "Peace Celestial," "Theme of Ages," and "Surrendered" are based on rubato statements of fairly simple chordal and/or melodic motifs. Ware and pianist Matthew Shipp play solos while bassist William Parker and drummer Guillermo E. Brown react in sturdy and empathic fashion. As these tracks play, one envisions landscapes dramatic and vast yet rocky and imposing. "Glorified Calypso," in contrast, bounces along with a buoyancy different in mood from the other cuts. Two of the tracks are non-originals. Beaver Harris's "African Drums" begins with a 6/8 figure that resembles the vamp of Coltrane's "My Favorite Things"; an off-kilter and rather ugly harmonic shift occurs in the middle four bars of the form. "Sweet Georgia Bright" by Charles Lloyd begins with a medium swing feel and goes in and out of double-time for the solos. It's as straight-ahead an arrangement as Ware will ever play, but as the entire album reveals, Ware's music contains more conventional harmony, melody, and rhythm than is often supposed. ~ David R. Adler