Reviews - DAVID S. WARE Quartet.. Surrendered (Columbia CK63816 )......AUM Fidelity home

CLASSIC CD Magazine (UK)
Words used to describe David S.Ware's music, like 'adventurous' and 'avant-garde', seem designed to frighten off a potential audience who would be totally bewitched by such a rich and expressive music. Perhaps it is an indication of the conservatism of today's jazz scene that a musician who expresses something personal and challenging is described in these terms. Ware's music certainly has its roots in the radical experiments carried out by John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman and he has managed to build on their open-mindedness and idealism without becoming affected by the greed and cynicism of the eighties. The resulting music is intensely powerful, sure of its artistic goals and unusually authoritative. This is not being 'avant-garde' but simply what all great musicians aim for.

Ware spent much of the eighties driving a cab and, as he recently described 'slowing his music down', to investigate its technical and spiritual roots. He is never happy to repeat worn phrases but keeps the music fresh by constantly pushing it into surprising areas and bouncing ideas off the other members of his group. His playing is versatile enough to include the keening lyricism of 'Peace Celestial' and wild outbursts on a tune like 'African Drums' the latter been driven by tremendously powerful grooves from the rhythm section. Indeed Ware is so keen on his quartet that he refuses to play without them and who can blame him. Matthew Shipp seems perfectly in tune with his leader's aesthetic and the creative energy between them is one of the highlights of this totally invigorating set.
5 stars, 5 headphones, full price. Verdict : Wow! - Philip Clark

From THE STRANGER (Seattle, WA Weekly) June 15, 2000:
Recently, at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, I watched as th David S. Ware Quartet-the best band in current jazz-played an amazing set that combined the finest aspects of John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, and James Brown. Then I witnessed a soulless crew of paunchy white guys (who looked more like they should be at the Harvard Regatta on the other side of town) render the most mathematically predictable kind of snoozedom imaginable. The crowd, applauding politely, didn't seem to know the difference....

CDNOW Featured Review
Tenor saxophonist David S. Ware and his long-standing quartet with downtown N.Y.C. stalwarts Matthew Shipp (piano) and William Parker (bass) -- joined this time out by new drummer Guillermo Brown -- are standard-bearers for the jazz avant-garde. It's not just their overflowing talent that makes them so formidable, but also their prominence on a major label. On the follow-up to their much-admired Go See the World, they once again prove that it's possible to be both accessible and adventurous.

"Peace Celestial" is aptly titled - it's a gently flowing, almost meditational improvisation on a descending chord progression. It twists and turns in sometimes unexpected directions, yet always maintains its quietly ecstatic, calm spirituality. The boppish "Sweet Georgia Bright" refers to "Sweet Georgia Brown" and the Thelonious Monk original that built on it, "Bright Mississippi." "Theme of Ages" is more aggressive, while the title track again works magic with a descending chord progression, this time with more density and rhythmic drive (Brown swings like mad on a semi-Latin beat).

The muscular "Glorified Calypso" suggests calypso imbued with the raw power of gospel, and reminds that Ware was once mentored by the jazz calypso master Sonny Rollins. The lengthy "African Drums" rides a triple-meter modal groove reminiscent in both rhythm and chordal outline of John Coltrane's reconstruction of "My Favorite Things," yet without sounding derivative. As much as ever, Ware displays a distinctive voice on this album, his burly momentum and tart tone juggernaut-like in their implacable intensity.

Challenging to mainstream jazz listeners yet building on materials they can relate to, this disc finds Ware and his cohorts reaching out to a broader audience without compromising their musical integrity in the least. -Steve Holtje Senior Writer, Jazz

Listening to Surrendered, it is not hard to believe that this is three-quarters of the same group that recorded some of Ware's most intense and abstract music (I'm thinking of Dao, issued by Homestead in 1996, among others). Yet Surrendered is one of the quartet's most controlled and most inside recorded performances ever. Ironically, there are no standards (e.g., "The Way We Were" from Go See The World, "Autumn Leaves" from Third Ear Recitation, "There Will Never Be Another You" and "Yesterdays" from Flight of I, etc.) though Ware offers a refreshingly whimsical take on Charles Lloyd's "Sweet Georgia Bright." I detect no stench of sellout, no hint of compromise. Ware has recorded similar material before, as anyone who heard his work with Andrew Cyrille's Maono can attest, and he seemed headed in this direction on Go See The World (a rough-hewn gem of a recording that made many a Top 10 of the 1990s list, including mine). Don't get me wrong, Ware and his group have not turned into neo-cons, but those looking for the totally wild, freewheeling abandon of his early '90s recordings may be a bit disappointed, initially. The CD starts off with "Peace Celestial," an invocation of sorts with Ware's testifying tenor riding Shipp's sweeping, rippling piano and waves of arco bass and malleted drums and cymbals. The stately beauty of this track contrasts nicely with the puckish wit displayed on "Sweet Georgia Bright." Parker and Brown (who's style falls somewhere between those of his predecessors Susie Ibarra and Whit Dickey) don't so much play the shifting tempo of the piece as play with it, while Ware spirals and shouts over Shipp's sparse backing. Shipp, articulate and brimming with interesting improvisational gambits as ever, seems rather restrained here, though he sounds perfectly at ease, as he does on his recent quartet CD, Pastoral Composure. "Theme of Ages," starts out like another balladic, spiritual piece (much like the opening track), though it doubles and triples in intensity shortly after Ware states the simple, fanfare-like melody. Parker and Brown communicate almost telepathically underneath Ware's fire-and-brimstone. Shipp delivers an imaginatively varied, though brief, piano solo. The title track completes the triad of flowing, free, gospel-inflected pieces. Out of nowhere, the rhythm section sets up a churning African motif, which Ware leaves open. Perhaps this is a bit of foreshadowing for "Glorified Calypso," an ecstatically rhythmic composition that features Ware's characteristically impassioned soloing. "African Drums" is a rolling 6/4 piece that Ware previously recorded in duet with the late Beaver Harris. The quartet version is a gem: Ware pulls out all the stops for his solo, and Shipp follows with a taut, well-conceived improvisation that gives way to solos by Parker and Brown. Surrendered is the sort of disc that will please most (but not all) of Ware's established audience, while providing an entry point for the musically curious. This is some of the most immediately accessible and enjoyable music to come out of the so-called avant-garde in a long time. - Dave Wayne

We're delighted that saxophonist David S. Ware continues to record for "Columbia Records" as modern jazz stylists of Ware's magnitude do need all the exposure they can muster, yet we might also be cautiously optimistic about his future with the label which is of course, totally sales driven! With Surrendered, the saxophonist follows up his rather explosive and slightly raucous "Columbia" debut titled, Go See The World!

Here, Ware continues to work with his esteemed associates, - pianist Matthew Shipp and bassist William Parker while drummer Guillermo E. Brown replaces Susie Ibarra in the band as matters get off to a rousing and somewhat enthusiastic start with the opener, "Peace Celestial". On this piece, Ware blows soul-searching lines amid Shipp's - touching -and thoroughly melodic chord progressions as this composition rekindles some of the motifs, Pharoah Sanders and Coltrane were exploring during their collaboration. Yet, from the onset it becomes rather clear that Ware and company have offset their ordinarily combustible or high-octane free-jazz approach with compositions that contain a bit more structure amid slightly temperate group dialogue and Wares often-fiery sense of the dynamic. Again, the band's approach is a bit less volcanic as they pursue radiant lyricism and swinging rhythms on saxophonist Charles Lloyd's "Sweet Georgia Bright", featuring Ware's enigmatic spirit and unruffled raw power. The musicians continue their plight on "Theme Of Ages" where Ware blows down the roof atop Shipp's swirling chord clusters and probing, underlying themes while Parker and Brown provide hearty and sympathetic support throughout!

The crowning highlight of this fine recording is the band's 16-minute rendition of Beaver Harris' composition, "African Drums" which boasts a bouncy and enticingly melodic theme driven by an altogether continuous flow. Without a doubt, this piece serves as a near-perfect vehicle for Ware's husky, buzz-saw style of execution as the saxophonist works his cavernous lower registers intermingled with upper register peaks. Hence, this performance alone provides insight into the artist's distinctive craft. All in all, Surrendered might truly represent one of Ware's finest recordings to date as no two songs sound alike which makes for a divergent and noteworthy mix while Steven Joerg's sharp and insightful production only enhances the overall scenario. In any event, if you've been a bit skittish or reluctant to delve into David S. Ware's musical world, Surrendered might signify an appropriate place to start. * * * * (out of * * * * *) - Glenn Astarita