It really suffices to simply say that this is David S. Ware's first solo recording. It's important. And it's just what you would expect: just take his quartet and leave out the other three players; Ware is essentially always soloing when he plays, no matter who he's with. Actually, because I've always found the interactions between Ware and Shipp, et al to be fairly oblique, I really enjoy having this opportunity to deal with his world one-on-one. Ware's music is one of the best ways of getting an instant kick in the ass; it makes sense that he spends time everyday in meditation'he gets his RDA of silence off-stage and uses his horn to virtually exorcise every last gram of it. This doesn't break new ground like some other great recent solo saxophone discs by Mats Gustaffson, Jack Wright, Bhob Rainey, etc, but then again, it doesn't need to: Ware's already standing on some mighty fine ground. And he builds gigantic and intricate edifices there without any hesitation or detectable reflection; it's like he just grabs whatever chunks of wood, steel and stone happen to be handy at the moment, and rams them down his horn: out come magnificent temporary castles where you can jump and stomp without any fear of falling through the floor. Ware's long-winded phrases are like Evan Parker's in a way: filled with all sorts of accidental-sounding details that even the musician himself probably couldn't predict, but as they are the product of a focused and refined sound-language and methodology, there is no reason to exert the force of control and prediction below a certain level of large- scale form. Ware seems to have composed the kernel of each piece's large-scale form on this disc, as with much of his quartet work. Also, he works here with fairly short (maybe 2 or 3 minutes on average) 'movements' within the 4 longer pieces (40 minutes altogether). These sub-pieces are separated by pauses that unambiguously serve as negative space (unlike the pauses in a Bhob Rainey solo, for example) and each sub-piece seems like an attempt to exhaust a single angle on his source material. While he may attempt to stake out a certain melodic or rhythmic territory, ultimately Ware's 'source material' is the sound of the saxophone; the primary variational logic in his playing seems to be timbral contrast, and there are very few players who command the kinds of timbres Ware does on his tenor. And that's the bottom line for me about this record: I love this record because I love the sound of the saxophone'that is, sounds, every single one of them. If Ware was a pianist I'd have a hard time sitting through the whole disc, but with the way he obliterates melodies and rhythms with pure, raw, huge, beautiful saxophone sound, this is a record I'm ready to replay as soon as it's over. Interestingly, this quality of replayability is related to the comfortableness of Ware's aesthetic: it's a natural flow of ideas plastered with definite links to earlier traditions. This is not music that challenges me and pushes me to a new level as a listener, unlike, say a Jack Wright solo or a Joe McPhee solo, which leave me transcendentally exhausted with their demands on my concentration. To these ears, Ware's playing is concrete, earthy, palpable, as opposed to abstract, other-worldly, elusive, or maybe "spiritual", although I hesitate to use a word that's filled with so many unknown connotations. I'm being careful to use the first-person here, because it's seems certain that there would be folks who would have the opposite experience.
This review is reprinted courtesy of All About Jazz Italia: www.allaboutjazz.com/italy