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Album Review

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, Rovi


Born: November 7, 1949 in Plainfield, NJ

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The critical buzz aroused by David S. Ware's work with Andrew Cyrille and Cecil Taylor in the '70s had, by the late '90s, turned into a consonant roar. New York's collective jazz press -- always on the lookout for the music's next messiah -- crowned Ware the "King of Free Jazz" on the basis of his energetic quartet albums from the mid-'90s. Ware's band (with Matthew Shipp on piano, William Parker on bass, and, variously, Susie lbarra, Marc Edwards, or Whit Dickey on drums) became the decade's avant-garde...
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Shakti, David S. Ware
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