David S. Ware - Planetary Unknown (Aum Fidelity, 2011)


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There are few musicians quite as dedicated to their craft as saxophonist David S. Ware. Coming up on the loft scene, apprenticing with Cecil Taylor, driving a cab during the lean years, and surviving a kidney transplant, all of the ups and downs of his life go into the passion of his music.

On this album, he is aided by an all-star group of free-jazz luminaries: William Parker on bass, Cooper-Moore on piano and former Albert Ayler sideman and brother of another drum great (Rashied) Muhammad Ali.

Opening with a massive epic, “Passage Wadang" Ware's awesome tenor saxophone cuts like a laser, building a collective improvisation with big raindrops of piano splattering on the music's surface. Ware returns to the fray, getting wild and peaking with controlled shrieks. He holds a massive low note while the band swirls around him before the music ebbs to a spare and open conclusion.

Reserved and haunted horn opens “Divination Unfathomable" before building to high pitched swirls of saxophone, developing faster, deeper, staring unflinchingly into the unknown. where all possibilities lie. Parker's bowed bass and Ali's nimble drumming accentuate the performance and propel it into the Cosmos. Parker is the key to “Ancestry Supplemental" with his massive tone setting the stage for fast and assured drumstrokes and a saxophone entry of extraordinary speed and power. Ware switches to sopranino saxophone for divination, which has a pinched Middle Eastern sound and developing a slow patient improvisation with help from Ali's nice brushwork.

This was a really extraordinary album and is highly recommended. You can chart Ware's lineage in the depth and strength of the music, from a young devotee of Sonny Rollins and Albert Ayler, to a loft scene veteran developing his own unique sound to an esteemed elder statesman and master improviser and instrumentalist, Davis S. Ware is one of a kind and every note is a treasure.

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This story appears courtesy of Music and More by Tim Niland.
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