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Sunday, July 24, 2011

David S. Ware - Planetary Unknown (AUM Fidelity, 2011) ****½

By Stef

This is a great summer for music, with some excellent albums just released - and more reviews to come ...

Let's start with the great David S. Ware and his new quartet, a great quartet, with William Parker playing the bass as on all other David S. Ware albums, with Cooper-More on piano instead of Matthew Shipp, and with Muhammad Ali on drums (the latest in a long list, with Susie Ibarra, Guillermo E. Brown, Warren Smith, Whit Dickey, Hamid Drake, ... and quite a phenomenal list at that).

It is no doubt the best David S. Ware album in years, sounding like a kind of home-coming, a very warm and coherent album, with a spiritual and mystic touch, yet also very abstract in nature, fully improvised and with no discernable themes. Ware is magnificent, but Cooper-More's participation is possibly the most characteristic feature of the overall sound, rawer than Shipp, more pounding, angular and rhythmic, in his own typical style, yet strongly influenced by Cecil Taylor, more focused on dynamics and sound than on harmonies.

Muhammad Ali, brother of the late Rashied Ali, plays a duet on this album, "Duality Is One", that takes the Coltrane/Ali Interstellar Space reference into a new generation. Muhammad Ali is excellent, also on the other pieces.

You could say this is a quartet album, rather than a David S. Ware album, because he gives more space to his band members, but that was already apparent in his other recent albums, with Parker and Cooper-Moore getting ample room to perform solo or duo.

The quartet takes you along on a fantastic journey, full of intensity, ferocious expansiveness to more meditative and spiritual moments and back, with Ware's phenomenal playing alone making this album worth the purchase. The way he can create something strong on the spot is remarkable, setting a whole scene and atmosphere with a few notes, being expressive and lyrical while at the same time keeping overall cohesion of the band, giving each improvisation its unique and recognisable characteristics. This is not given to many, and with an end result that is both beautiful and deeply resonating, it makes it even better.

Free jazz at its best.

Download from iTunes.

Buy from Instantjazz.

© stef


Jason Crane | said...

Hi Stef,

The 300th episode of The Jazz Session, available August 11, is an interview with all four members of Planetary Unknown, recorded right after their set at the Vision Festival.

Jason Crane
The Jazz Session

Stef said...

Thanks, Jason!

angry birds said...

very thanks :D

eddie said...

great review, i agree completely.

Stanley Jason Zappa said...


I wanted to write about this one!

***** (5 stars)

The reunion of Cooper-Moore and David S. Ware = monumental. Cooper-Moore is absolutely a standout--a huge talent, hugely under appreciated. Does anyone else hear John Blum in Cooper Moore and Cooper Moore in John Blum?

David S. Ware sounds great, and by great I mean deep, and by deep I mean not like some schmuck in a sports coat and turtleneck playing Marcel Mule exercises. Ware is AWESOME on this...a high point in his catalog.

A great recording, and a great review, Stef.