Sunday, November 17, 2019

David S. Ware New Quartet - Theatre Garonne, 2008 (AUM Fidelity, 2019)

This entry in the David S. Ware Archive Series shows the great saxophonist at a crossroads. His legendary quartet had dissolved after a seventeen year run and he was also managing health difficulties, neither of which would keep him from making the music he loved. He convened a new group, keeping stalwart bassist William Parker and adding guitarist Joe Morris and percussionist Warren Smith. They recorded the music for the album Shakti on May 9, 2008, and then flew to France to present this concert of new material on May 24. “Crossing Samsara, Part 1” has a saxophone led theme with the guitar following Ware building into a collective improvisation with Smith and Morris adding a fresh approach and exciting new dimension to the Ware quartet. The music is potent and flexible, and the saxophonist mixes long bellows and quick filigrees of notes. Ware drops out, leaving space for the guitarist’s well articulated and prickly approach to combine with bass and drums playing fast but not very loud. The intricate mix of guitar, bass and drums allows complex rhythms to build back to the theme and conclusion. Ware develops an urgent new theme on “Crossing Samsara, Part 2” taking a long and unaccompanied solo that is very impressive, before the rest of the band returns to say their piece, playing faster and more complex, creating an intricate web of sound that constructs its own unique infrastructure. “Durga” is a slower paced performance that probes forward, gradually increasing in pace with subtle guitar, bass and shimmering cymbals. Ware uses a more raw and course tone on his instrument to excellent effect, weaving through Smith’s powerhouse drumming, digging in and wailing and leading a confident improvisation that pulls the band in on his coattails. Parker uses his bow wonderfully on this particular performance, adding an excellent sense of texture to the music as well. The drums and bass carry on their intuitive interaction on “Namah” with their communication building suspense in a subtle and deep manner. Saxophone and guitar enter, growing progressively more strident, Ware unleashing provocative and long piercingly held tones through circular breathing that are wonderful to hear. The performance wraps up with “Samsara (Reprise)” where Ware introduces the band and leads theme through a brief but enthusiastic instrumental finale. This was another wonderful entry in the Ware Archive Series, a timely reminder of what a titan the saxophonist was, and how he was always reaching for new sounds, new experiences and new ideas. Theatre Garonne 2008 -

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