|Reviews DAVID S. WARE QUARTET Freedom Suite (AUM023)|
JAZZ .com - PUBLISHER'S PICK
TIMES and CHICAGO TRIBUNE
ferocious 'Freedom Suite'
Ware's tenor orations often push into an abstract region that some listeners
might call free jazz, yet his solos are so magnificent in their sweep,
so propulsive in rhythmic drive and so linear in melodic development that
they prove impossible to resist. With the formidable Matthew Shipp adding
his all-over-the-keyboard virtuosity to a work originally recorded without
piano, it's clear that this band has reconceived the original from top
E. Brown's impressionistic drums and William Parker's tonally resplendent
bass help this quartet to sound much larger and mightier than the sum
of its parts. In the end, this "Freedom Suite" is so broad in
scope and vast in expressive range that it stands as a fitting response
to Rollins' masterwork.
- OCTOBER 2002
Freedom Suite (first issued on the Riverside album of the same name) is
a protest jazz masterpiece, albeit one relegated to a back seat behind
works by Charles Mingus, Max Roach, and even John Coltrane by some critics.
There are several reasons for this. Despite being inspired by Rollins'
first-hand experience of housing discrimination in New York, it was recorded
in early 1958, and released before the Civil Rights Movement reached critical
mass nationally. Shortly after its release, Rollins famously dropped out,
causing the jazz press to scurry around attempting to discover which bridge
he practised on at night. And, most importantly, the sidelong trio performance
with bass player Oscar Pettiford and Roach on drums did not have the militant
edge of pieces created just a few years later. Being coupled with a side
of politically incorrect waltzes and show tunes arguably dissipated its
is that "The Freedom Suite" is a natural, if overlooked reservoir
for tenor saxophonists of David S. Ware's generation. Obviously Ware has
long been well aware of the piece, having studied with Rollins before
his mid-70s emergence. Yet it is somewhat surprising for Ware to give
the piece a CD length reading, as so little of Rollins' influence is detectable
even in Ware's earliest recordings (the notable exception being his take
on Kurt Weill's "My Ship" on drummer Andrew Cyrille's 1978 Black
Saint album Metamusician's Stomp). Instead, Ware quickly established a
sound extrapolating the Fire Music nexus of spiritual and visceral intensities,
placing little to no stock in Rollins' romanticism, humour, and interest
in pop music.
diamond-yielding force serves the spirit, if not the letter of Rollins'
suite, as he compresses the original, modified A-B-C-B-D structure. He
streamlines his arrangement by eliminating the restatement of the worksong-tinged
waltz after the pivotal ballad movement, resulting in a sleek 40 minute
reading. He also recast most of the meaterials. The first movement is
more emphatic; the second movement is more piledriving than dancing; and
the Ellington hued ballad is transformed into a passionate rubato outpouring.
This gives the suite a far more contemporary emotional arc. In doing so,
Ware puts the original in an arguably ambivalent light, dating Rollins'
sensibilities, but proving the tensile strength of his music.
It is debatable
who faced the more daunting challenge - Ware, bassist William Parker and
drummer Guillermo E. Brown, who had to contend with the long shadows of,
respectively, Rollins, Pettiford and Roach, or pianist Matthew Shipp,
who had nothing to model his contribution on or deviate from. Regardless,
they all rise to the occasion. Shipp hands in a remarkably mercurial performance,
effortlessly pivoting between rhapsodic contrarian and propulsive accompanist
and soloist. Though it is more reminiscent of another late 50s Rollins
associate - Wilbur Ware - Parker's full sound and open swing feel is magnetic.
And, Brown ably layers cross-rhythms to the brink of opacity without losing
the essential rudimentary drive that is the crux of Roach's genius.
threshold was easily the highest and he cleared it convincingly. Just
as Rollins had to rein in his good humour and his propensity to quote
corny standards to make a compelling statement, Ware had to be slightly
less withering than usual to convey the earthiness of Rollins' themes.
His trademark exultancy prevails, but without turning the materials into
scorched earth. Subsequently, he stays true to both Rollins and himself,
which is the measure of a healthy sense of tradition.
that this envisioning of "Freedom Suite" is twice as long as
the original, some potential listeners may assume that the extra padding
comes as a result of extensive blowing between the piece's melodic parameters.
However, the opposite couldn't be truer - Ware has endowed the suite with
a beauty of epic proportions that, while it does inject a great degree
of musical freedom into Rollins' conceptual liberation, never relies on
aimless meandering to achieve that goal. In fact, the suite's four movements,
added piano and classic sense of interconnectedness recall A Love Supreme
as much as Rollins' original - to put it plainly, jazz just doesn't get
much better than this." - Scott Hreha
Like a late night conversation that spills into morning, Wares Freedom Suite occupies your mind for days to come. The record stands as a true testament to the fact that our most musical of musics indeed still thrives when applied by those who truly understand its structure, intent, history, and most of all, possibilities." - Ben Schulman