Reviews – DAVID S. WARE QUARTET ..Renunciation ...(AUM042)

4/5 stars
"This live set from 2006 displays Ware at his most concentrated and impassioned, with that closely attuned threesome of pianist Matthew Shipp, bassist William Parker and drummer Guillermo E. Brown. Shipp is magnificent: sombre, hypnotic hooks, washes of Tayor-ish runs under the sax tumult (enmeshed with Brown's percussion hustle and Parker's darting basslines), guitar-like twangs and hard-punched chords. Some of the music flows like molten metal; some proceeds in explosive outbursts and dead stops; a little is soulful and slow."
- John Fordham

"..if you wanted to analyse the appeal of Ware's playing further it could be said that his tone has a sense of the roaring anguish yet stark nobility that underscores the human condition at its most naked. There is indeed something unadorned and artifice-free about this music. Not so much in the sense of sonic minimalism but the rawness of emotion and the strength of character of the players. .. As for his longstanding band members, they are superb in their accompaniment, bringing the required rhythmic and harmonic attention to detail to the table." - Kevin Le Gendre

"This taut set is as structurally refined as an architectural plan. Every note feels flawlessly placed, but the music urgently retains its wonder and majesty." - Philip Clark

ALL MUSIC GUIDE Review by Thom Jurek
Recorded at the 2006 Vision Festival XI in New York, Renunciation is the sound of a band who has been playing together for a very long time -- drummer Guillermo E. Brown is the newest member and he's been around for more than seven years -- and who knows and understands the value of everything, from circular rhythm and mantra-like compositional structures to the extended gift of free improvisation within their own definition of the time/space continuum. Tenorman David S. Ware has released lots of different kinds of records in the past two decades. But those he's issued in the 21st century have been the most satisfying. His understanding of dynamic, force, color, and that rare thing that John Coltrane discovered and taught in finding a series of fluid modes that you defined through your horn to play in and improvise through to the next one are in evidence here throughout. Matthew Shipp's communication of theme, idea and bridge of ideas throughout the gig -- but most eloquently displayed on the relative simplicity that is the Alice Coltrane-like "Ganesh Sound" -- is majestic, dignified and purposeful. The centerpiece of this set is the three-part "Renunciation Suite." While much of what takes place within it is free-blowing, one can hear the wildly adventurous anchor that the rhythm section -- bassist William Parker and drummer Brown -- provide, particularly in those knotty and wily exchanges between Ware's horn, Shipp's piano, and Parker's bass. The time is out of the box, it stretches and strafes between Ware's intervallic exploration and Shipp's codified, open investigations into dissonance as harmonic interplay. But lest one think the rest of this date is some free-blowing excursion into excess, think again. "Mikuro's Blues" is a modal blues with a repetitive circular rhythm that sways, swaggers and strolls before it finds its way back into the reprise of "Ganesh Sound." Shipp's climbing and shimmering that middle register as Ware finds places to blow along every chord cluster make the cymbal and tom work of Brown and Parker's thematic, as well as schematic, bass patterns carry more weight. It feels like an elongated introduction to a tune that's been taking place all along. The disc closes on "Saturnian" which does not reflect Sun Ra so much as it does a sky's ear view of bebop, the blues, and even hard bop. Yes, but does so through the angles, twists, and kaleidoscopic twirls of Ware's soundworld. It stops, starts, tries on one aspect of the tradition, finishes with it, and breathes in another in its joyous three-minute-and-forty-three second sprint. For those who get Ware, this is another essential title in his discography. For those who don't yet but are open, this may be the one to put you over the line and into his camp. For those stalwart uptights who simply refuse to try, there's certainly some freshly recorded slab of museum-piece jazz to keep you happy while you chew your cud in the pasture.

9 weeks in Canadian Jazz Radio Top 10; peaking at #1

"There are groups out there that are louder, faster, and harder, but the Quartet attains a soulful nobility that few other musicians can muster. Wherever Ware goes next, this ends his quartet's proud history on a high note." - Bill Meyer

"So maybe we shouldn't be too sad that the David S. Ware Quartet supposedly played their final U.S. performance last year. After all, now somebody else gets to be the best working band in jazz. And besides, as a consolation prize, we now have that final concert on disc, reproduced here in all its lyrical, mystical cacophonous glory." - Keith Harris

"The work of free jazz titan David S. Ware seems to grow more refined, more ambitious, and more majestic as time moves on. Renunciation featuring Ware's formidable quartet, is taken from a 2006 live date and contains eight compositions, each of which glows, morphs, startles, and seemingly reinvents the sonic stratosphere. Ware and company build structures that invite the listener in to witness dazzling displays of tension, engagement and release, and collective exploration in harmony and dissonance. The effects are entrancing, making Renunciation a must for adventurous listeners and providing further proof that Ware is at the top of the free jazz game."

"Renunciation could serve as both an epitaph aimed at the quartet's longtime fans and as an enticing intro for a newcomer--considering the group's illustrious history, that's saying something." - Hank Shteamer

POINT OF / by Bill Shoemaker
David S. Ware Quartet
AUM Fidelity AUM042

There hasn’t been an album with the finality of Renunciation since the Modern Jazz Quartet’s The Last Concert. Billed as their farewell US concert, the David S. Ware Quartet’s 2006 Vision Festival performance did not simply signal the end of an illustrious ensemble, but an episode, if not an era in jazz history. Despite being a label only a zealot could say out loud without wincing, one that widely missed the point of Ware’s music, “ecstatic jazz” is now embedded in the lexicon of the music at the Millennium, and the tenor saxophonist’s quartet with pianist Matthew Shipp, bassist William Parker, and a series of drummers culminating with Guillermo E. Brown is perhaps forever tagged as its super group. Subsequently, the album’s title was suggestive enough for Ware’s gatefold notes to begin with the disclaimer that he was not in any way renouncing the Quartet’s music. The title merely references the three-part suite that is the centerpiece of the set, which itself stems from Ware’s personal consciousness-raising regime.

Undoubtedly, this explanation will only reinforce the ultimate vibe of the album for some listeners, as will the shape and tone of the concert. “Ganesh Sound” opens and closes the set, a magisterial motive that’s more sung than chanted, initially a glowing ember that ignites into wild, blessed fire. Comparisons to Sonny Rollins, from who Ware received early tutelage, go only so far in describing Ware’s playing. But, it goes some way to explain why Ware doesn’t develop such stately materials in a manner that more closely mirrors the open-valve Coltrane-Sanders trajectory. Sure, there are knotty lines, bellowing long tones and vocalizations that are quite far from the Rollins lexicon; the connection to Rollins is something akin to a stream of consciousness that is more associative than absolutist. Shipp’s fundamental comping, a dry jack-hammering of the harmonic contour without embellished torrents, intensifies the material without diffusing it in a blanketing, blinding heat. Parker provides dark subliminal rumbling and Brown thumps and highlights in equal measure. They place Ware’s tempestuousness in bold relief.

“Renunciation Suite” is structurally intriguing. The first part is largely antiphonal, with Ware’s intense solo volleys returned with equal force by the trio of Shipp, Parker and Brown. Ware, Parker and Brown merge for a short roaring exchange, then Ware and Brown go heads up before Ware gives Brown the stage for a lengthy solo that combined the raw “Air” attack of Denis Charles and a regard for space and a utilization of the entire kit that recalls Anthony Williams. The second part is a casebook example of the blunt force created by Ware’s caterwauling, Shipp’s pugilistic comping and Parker and Brown’s massed rhythms; perhaps this is the object of Ware’s renunciation, as the concluding movement is a relatively introspective duo between Parker and Shipp, a mingling of achingly fervent arco phrases and limpid arpeggios knotted tightly. It’s surprisingly that Ware left this culminating work teetering on a precipice. To bring the set full circle, he dips deep into the band’s book for “Mikuro’s Blues,” which is about as close to a mid-tempo Coltranish vamp as the quartet ever ventured, before reprising “Ganesh Sound.” A full three minutes of frenzied crowd reaction ensues before the quartet’s withering encore, “Saturnian,” makes it clear that it’s over.

They say when one door closes, another opens. If that’s the case with David S. Ware, get prepared for something mighty.

VILLAGE VOICE Article by Phil Freeman

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