Sunday, November 29, 2015

David S. Ware - Apogee/Birth of a Being (AUM Fidelity, 2015)

This two-disc set marks the first recordings as a leader or co-leader of the great saxophonist David S. Ware. Forming the band Apogee with pianist Cooper-Moore and drummer Marc Edwards, the group practiced relentlessly in the early seventies, but eventually disbanded after Ware joined the Cecil Taylor Unit. When he became ready for his first album, he called upon his old comrades for an explosive session recorded in April of 1977. The music is powerful and spiritually formed free jazz, with Ware developing a burning and tempered tone developed partially from informal lessons given by Sonny Rollins. “Prayer” opens the original album, as an incantation of what would follow. It takes a yearning and patient sensibility and develops over the course of the performance. The great substance and depth of Ware’s horn is on display, and that would develop further on the following song, “Thematic Womb.” Starting from a slow and measured pace and repeated figure the music develops into tightly spun pulses of sound, with deeply percussive piano and thrashing drums driving Ware’s saxophone further onward. He has an amazing amount of energy as the music flows from him like a fountain, non-stop and non-repetitive in its execution. The original album ends with two parts of “A Primary Piece” with part one opening with Ware developing fragments of music and then expounding on them as Cooper-Moore and Edwards fall in for the collective improvisation. The music moves in an angular fashion, darting off into corners and then blazing through with a piercing cry. The interactivity between the musicians is excellent, even when the music is at its most torrential, the long hours of practicing pay off with starting empathy. Part two takes the same path, driving out of the blocks for a blistering improvisation, led by Ware who is playing so impressively that it is hard to believe that this is his first album. The power and the commitment that he shows to the music are extraordinary and at times quite overwhelming. The second disc of this album consists of the remainder of the music recorded at this session, all previously unreleased, beginning with an alternate take of the majestic “Prayer” and then moving into “Cry” which has Edwards playing subtle brushes and Cooper-Moore’s spare piano which frames Ware’s peals of saxophone. “Stop Time” is the longest track and their wildest, a free-jazz blowout that is thrilling to hear with Edwards given the opportunity for a fine solo, as the band charges inexorably forward. They begin to run out of gas near the end of the very long improvisation, but what it took to get there was amazing. Finally the album ends with an unaccompanied tenor saxophone solo by Ware, which really shows his Sonny Rollins influence. He plays with a dark and substantial tone, weaving music out of the air as if by magic, as he would do for the rest of his amazing career. This is an outstanding re-issue of music that demands to be heard, by a master bursting onto the scene fully formed. For anyone interested in free jazz this is as good as it gets. Apogee / Birth of a Being -

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