David S. Ware Quartet: Corridors & Parallels (2004)
The new David S. Ware Quartet record distinguishes itself from the first 12 (!!) with the following two features:
* it includes electronic music for the first time; and
* it represents Ware's big "comeback" from his major label contract.
About that first part, don't be fearful: Matthew Shipp has figured out how to play the synthesizer just fine. And about the second, be joyous: those corporate tentacles always reach into nooks and crannies and manage to smooth out hard edges where they're most needed. Music always works better when those evil tentacles disappear from the scene, in this listener's opinion.
It's hard to classify Corridors & Parallels because the record has so many unexpected angles and quirks. "Superimposed," for example, is a duet between Shipp and Ware. Shipp plays a pre-programmed rhythm track along with additional elements dynamically added live. Meanwhile Ware wastes no time in this context to draw ever-narrowing circles of light, but his integration into the rhythmic feel of the piece is patently devoted. (On other tunes, real live drummer Guillermo E. Brown makes himself quite visible. Brown's prowess and versatility are dumbfounding throughout Corridors & Parallels. It's been said before, but the world of music needs more from Guillermo E. Brown. As Ware put it in typical understatement last we talked, "Guillermo can play the drums." Indeed.)
Only one tune after "Superimposed," "Sound-A-Bye" takes an eastern drone effect to its physical and virtual limits. Here Ware challenges the stereotype that his music must always be fast and furious; and the argument is quite compelling. Bells, gongs, and church-like keyboards accompany Ware on a five-minute excursion through just about as many notes. (And that's not under-exaggerating by much.)
About Shipp's melodic synthesizer on Corridors & Parallels : it's generally not terribly polyphonic, and he generally doesn't change voices midway through a piece. That, of course, converts Shipp's role from the wildly unpredictable, explosive human dynamo to the pensive and taciturn commentator. He's an extremely smart player, so he adapts well to the new role. It's interesting. It works. When he chooses to play synth drums, the product can be so good it fools the human ear into thinking about drum kits. (Fooled mine on "Superimposed," until I learned the truth.)
Ware has invaded a new dimension of sound on Corridors & Parallels. He's making more use textured drumming, including Guillermo Brown's many colors of expression, and he's reinvented Shipp's role in the group. This new effort is a fine record: a living document of an group in flux, and a stand-alone work of art. It will be quite revealing to hear what happens next after such a dramatic change. This is living, breathing music.
Track Listing: [untitled]; Straight Track; Jazz Fi-Sci; Superimposed; Sound-A-Bye; [untitled]; Corridors & Parallels; Somewhere; Spaces Embraces; Mother May You Rest In Bliss; [untitled].
Personnel: David S. Ware: tenor saxophone; Matthew Shipp: synthesizer; William Parker: bass; Guillermo E. Brown: drums.
Record Label: AUM Fidelity
Style: Modern Jazz