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David S. Ware: Balladware

Nic Jones By

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This could be one of those infrequent occasions where the situation in which the music was recorded has direct bearing upon the music that was made. Hoping to replicate the energy levels they had attained over the course of an extended European tour at the end of 1999, the members of David S. Ware's quartet went into the studio when they returned to the US with that in mind. Exhaustion amongst the musicians played its part, however, and the result was the ballad programme heard here.

The history of the music on record is of course peppered with examples of "outside" musicians playing "inside," and in that respect this is an addition to a canon. On a more fundamental level, however, it's an example of four musicians bringing their collective methodologies to bear upon the kind of material that usually falls outside of their scope.

Thus, Ware's tenor playing on "Autumn Leaves" betrays a restless quality, as if he feels a certain anxiety at having to conform with the restrictions of the material, whilst on "Gospellized" Shipp is not reticent with regards to evoking the spirits of countless Sunday mornings on the piano—and simultaneously maintaining the ambience of what might be called the group's collective remit.

This was the first time Guillermo E. Brown ventured into the studio as a member of this group, though his drumming is so deep in the pocket that such knowledge seems irrelevant. Longevity of association amongst the three other members of the group has had the effect of making them sound like different parts of the same whole, and while there might be better examples of their work out there, this release is still significant documentation of work in progress.


Track Listing: Yesterdays; Dao; Autumn Leaves; Godspelized; Sentient Compassion; Tenderly; Angel Eyes.

Personnel: David S. Ware: tenor saxophone; Matthew Shipp: piano; William Parker: contrabass; Guillermo E. Brown: drums.

Title: BalladWare | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Thirsty Ear Recordings


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