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[Off The Record]
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David S. Ware

After two albums with Columbia, tenor-saxophonist Ware is back with indie AUM Fidelity, undiminished. If anything this is one of Ware’s most balanced and beautifully sequenced recordings. For one, it features a couple of his compositions without his playing. For another, long-time sidekick Matthew Shipp has moved from piano to synthesizer. The synth here isn’t a harmonic softener; instead, it adds bite and atmosphere — windy, whooshing sounds, pan pipes, marimba, organ. The spiky, angular patterns are recognizably Shipp, but now there’s a bit of Sun Ra to go with his Cecil Taylor. On "Jazz Sci-Fi," Shipp even trades some outtaspace blipping fours with Ware and the rest of the band.

The album begins with a free-rhythm-and-synth introductory track. Ware doesn’t enter until a full four minutes into the rolling boil of "Straight Track." Yes, there’s plenty of free-time here, the whole band throbbing with a pulse laid down by bassist William Parker and drummer Guillermo Brown. But there’s also some straight blowing over African percussion ("Superimposed") that wouldn’t be out of place on an Archie Shepp album from 1967. On "Sound-a-bye" and elsewhere, Ware gets zen, with long held tones over suspended chime-like synth patterns, cymbals, and bells. "Mother May You Rest in Bliss" is a gorgeous, serrated lament, with a long melody line over low bowed bass and church-organ chords. And yes, there’s still Ware’s tone, either as gruff and blasting as a diesel rig’s horn and smokestack or else tender-macho, as clear and direct as a human voice.


Issue Date: November 8 - 15, 2001

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