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Billed as the final US performance of the David S. Ware Quartet, Renunciation was recorded live at the 2006 Vision Festival and arrives as something like the final episode of The Sopranos: having been an important part of our lives for so long, fans hate to see them go. But deep down, we know it's time. Over the course of some eighteen albums in seventeen years, Ware's core compadres (William Parker on bass and Matthew Shipp on piano, along with a series of first-rate drummers culminating in Guillermo E. Brown) established themselves as free jazz titans. Despite some relative mainstream attention, the band could never quite break out of its niche, but compared to other contemporary quartets, Ware's sound has always been larger; his stature greater; his concept grander; and the band's lineup more impressive, as Shipp and Parker established themselves as composers, players and bandleaders of the highest order.
It was on Ware's compositions that the band came together in full glory: Shipp's densely pounding calculus worked out on the keyboard; Parker's profound earthquake rumblings and staggering arco atmospherics; and the leader's mastery of his horn, from a lion's roar in free passages to the full-throated operatic vibrato he'd summon for ballads, Ware was constantly striving, questing and climbing. All that is here on this CD, as the band revisits the groove of "Mikuro's Blues, aims for transcendence on the opening "Ganesh Sound, stretches and explores in the three-part "Renunciation Suite and returns for one last short burst on the encore, "Saturnian.
Ware makes a clear point in his liner notes that he's renouncing the temporal, not the music of the Quartet. He considers himself to be a vessel, a conduit for a power greater than the earthly. Call him "nothing and he might take it as the ultimate compliment. The legacy of the David S. Ware Quartet, however, is truly something.
Track Listing: Introductions; Ganesh Sound; Renunciation Suite I; Renunciation Suite II ; Renunciation Suite III ; Mikuro's Blues; Ganesh Sound (Reprise); Saturnian.
Personnel: David S. Ware: tenor saxophone; Matthew Shipp: piano; William Parker: bass; Guillermo E. Brown: drums.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.