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Album Review

Recorded at the 2006 Vision Festival XI in New York, Renunciation is the sound of a band who has been playing together for a very long time — drummer Guillermo E. Brown is the newest member and he's been around for more than seven years — and who knows and understands the value of everything, from circular rhythm and mantra-like compositional structures to the extended gift of free improvisation within their own definition of the time/space continuum. Tenorman David S. Ware has released lots of different kinds of records in the past two decades. But those he's issued in the 21st century have been the most satisfying. His understanding of dynamic, force, color, and that rare thing that John Coltrane discovered and taught in finding a series of fluid modes that you defined through your horn to play in and improvise through to the next one are in evidence here throughout. Matthew Shipp's communication of theme, idea and bridge of ideas throughout the gig — but most eloquently displayed on the relative simplicity that is the Alice Coltrane-like "Ganesh Sound" — is majestic, dignified and purposeful. The centerpiece of this set is the three-part "Renunciation Suite." While much of what takes place within it is free-blowing, one can hear the wildly adventurous anchor that the rhythm section — bassist William Parker and drummer Brown — provide, particularly in those knotty and wily exchanges between Ware's horn, Shipp's piano, and Parker's bass. The time is out of the box, it stretches and strafes between Ware's intervallic exploration and Shipp's codified, open investigations into dissonance as harmonic interplay. But lest one think the rest of this date is some free-blowing excursion into excess, think again. "Mikuro's Blues" is a modal blues with a repetitive circular rhythm that sways, swaggers and strolls before it finds its way back into the reprise of "Ganesh Sound." Shipp's climbing and shimmering that middle register as Ware finds places to blow along every chord cluster make the cymbal and tom work of Brown and Parker's thematic, as well as schematic, bass patterns carry more weight. It feels like an elongated introduction to a tune that's been taking place all along. The disc closes on "Saturnian" which does not reflect Sun Ra so much as it does a sky's ear view of bebop, the blues, and even hard bop. Yes, but does so through the angles, twists, and kaleidoscopic twirls of Ware's soundworld. It stops, starts, tries on one aspect of the tradition, finishes with it, and breathes in another in its joyous three-minute-and-forty-three second sprint. For those who get Ware, this is another essential title in his discography. For those who don't yet but are open, this may be the one to put you over the line and into his camp. For those stalwart uptights who simply refuse to try, there's certainly some freshly recorded slab of museum-piece jazz to keep you happy while you chew your cud in the pasture.

Renunciation, David S. Ware Quartet
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