The transfer of music from a musician's inner being to the outside happens as a result of a mysterious internal drive that can never really be explained. This drive motivates the expression of emotion intertwined with intellect, using musical instruments as the tools. How we hear this expression can bring us closer to our own inner beings: our "selves. We have a chance to experience the process in the AUM Fidelity release, Renunciation, which documents the last performance of the David S. Ware Quartet at the 2006 Vision Festival XI in New York.
The words light and airy are unlikely candidates to describe this quartet's music. This music is serious business. For Ware, as he specifies in the liner notes, the crux of the music lies in his gratitude that he can share an awareness attained from his own personal revelations as a saxophonist. The rest of the quartet, with pianist Matthew Shipp, bassist William Parker and drummer Guillermo E. Brown , join him as his entourage of music acolytes.
Notwithstanding the encore, "Saturnian," the recording both opens and closes with peals of Ware's careful and hyperbolic placement of a theme on his tenor in honor of the Hindu God, Lord Ganesh. The bass and the drums align in the rhythmic pulse and extend the theme's honesty with fluctuating pizzicatos and a surround of cymbal swishes. The piano supports the variations on this theme with adamant chordal emphasis.
"Renunciation Suites I, II, and III constitute the body of the recording. As Ware also clarifies in the liner notes, these pieces manifest the essence of how he plays. At any given moment, his total "self, not simply his musical "self, blends with the universe.
His approach challenges the listener to exit any blasé listening predisposition. Perhaps then the listener can absorb the extravagant tenor arpeggios that start at a mid-range tonal level and reach far above and below the pitch where they began. Perhaps the listener can absorb the conversations that the tenor is having with the piano, drums and bass and seize onto the way in which the instruments alter their colors to respond to one another. Perhaps the listener can disconnect ever so slightly from the music to notice how the musicians identify and act on the expenditure of energy necessary to maintain the integrity of a series of continuous explosive moments. The listener might also be able to infer that Shipp, Parker and Brown engage in the music with the same intensity and purpose as is exhibited by their band leader.
For those unable to hear the last performance of this quartet, Renunciation will be more than rewarding. For those who were fortunate enough to hear the quartet, the recording will revivify the performance. It is vivid and bright, right down to the exhilarating introduction which Lewis Barnes relishes when he introduces the four musicians. The recording is pure of heart, only as David S. Ware would have it.
Personnel: David S. Ware: tenor saxophone; Matthew Shipp: piano; William Parker: bass; Guillermo E. Brown: drums.