I'm sure you've experienced music that blows your socks off when you first hear it, and then you listen to it again and again, and it gets better all the time. This double vinyl album is like that.
David S Ware's compositions and playing have this unique magic that is only comparable to John Coltrane : expansive, expansive, expansive, like there's no gravity anymore holding you down from flying across the skies, the oceans, the mountains. It is powerful and all-encompassing, full of passion, full of drama, full of wild joy, full of unlimited and unrestrained love, like a prayer to the universe. Ware's tenor is accompanied by Matthew Shipp on piano, William Parker on bass and Guillermo E. Brown on drums, the kind of crew that will help you fly to outer space, and they do... they do so brilliantly.
The first track, "Ganesh Sound", comes for his recent album "Renunciation", but here it starts with a few minutes of dark intro by the band, before Ware enters and the tune's wonderful floating melody and rhythm grabs you by the heart and drags you in for the next 17 minutes of pure musical joy, hypnotic, mesmerizing, stunning, with Ware's powerful tenor reaching every corner of the universe. The second side starts with "Theme Of Ages", of his "Surrendered" CD, again strong from beginning to end, with a strong drum solo in the middle, and with Ware wailing his heart out. It is followed by "Mikuro's Blues", a mid-tempo piece that figures on several of his albums (Renunciation, Live In The World, Go See The World), with Parker in a leading role, driving on the halting rhythm in perfect interplay with Shipp's hammering piano chords. The C side is again one track, Sun Ra's "The Stargazers", a composition that the band has also played before. It starts very open-ended, with Shipp's avant-garde lyricism on piano supported by Parker's arco and pizzi playing, while Brown accentuates with small percussion, creating the kind of mystique that sets the scene, and when the rhythm picks up, Parker's bass vamp pulling along Brown, all percussive fluidity, and Shipp playing those broadly spaced rhythmic chords, and then after some 7 minutes Ware enters, lifting the musical heights even higher, giving himself fully, wailing, howling, but focused, disciplined, powerfully, while his rhythm section drives on, relentlessly, hypnotically, then we get the mirror effect, and Ware takes a step back, leaving his band, and especially Parker some space, who keeps the piece's momentum going till the very last note, yet the track continues on the D side of the LP, strangely enough, but that's a minor default, because Shipp comes pounding in again, light-footed and strong, leading to the climax for unaccompanied sax. "Lithuanian Whirl" is an improvised piece, starting with solo sax, in which Ware demonstrates his fabulous tonal skills, then Shipp takes over the lead, for some adventurous, but always lyrical, soloing. The album ends majestically with "Surrendered", grand, expansive again, propulsed forward into the skies by Parker's soulful bass, Brown's fluent playing, Shipp's rhythmic lyricism, and flying, soaring, above it all, high in the sky, David S. Ware.
Needless to say that I'm a fan of David S. Ware, and of his band-mates, but this is an absolutely stellar performance, with an absolutely excellent sound quality too. This album is without a doubt a strong contender for the end-of-the-year rankings and listings. At least it has everything this guy expects from music : it is beautiful, adventurous, lyrical and free, soulful and emotional, spiritual and with instrumental skills that are hard to equal
... at least not since Coltrane ...
Last month, David S. Ware was operated on, receiving the long-awaited kidney transplant. Apparently everything went well and he is now recovering. We wish him and his family all the best. And may he come back on stage quite soon.