Monday, October 22, 2012

David S. Ware 1949-2012

It seems a little superfluous to post about the passing of saxophonist David S. Ware, as tributes have hit the Web and public radio over the weekend. Still, Ware, who passed away on October 18 at the age of 62, had such lengthy and uncompromising career that I feel the need to join in celebrating his art. Tenor was his main instrument, although he also occasionally played more obscure horns such as the saxello and stritch. He was intense and unyielding, influenced by Rollins (with whom he studied), and late-period Coltrane but with his own formidable style.

I first became aware of him with his appearance on Cecil Taylor’s Dark To Themselves (Enja), a live recording from 1976. He recorded only sporadically in the intervening years, but in 1988 Passage To Music appeared on Silkheart with William Parker on bass and Marc Edwards on drums. Parker would become a core member of Ware’s seminal group, The David S. Ware Quartet, along with pianist Matthew Shipp and a series of drummers: Edwards, Whit Dickey, Susie Ibarra, Hamid Drake and Guillermo Brown. He had health setbacks in recent years, and underwent a kidney transplant a couple of years ago. He was able to return to activity with a new group consisting of Cooper-Moore (p), William Parker (b) and Muhammad Ali (d), documented on Planetary Unknown and Live at Jazzfestival Saalfelden, both on Aum Fidelity. He will be missed, but his music is forever.

Matthew Shipp paid tribute in an article on The Daily Beast. Here's a clip of the Quartet live in Vilnius, a performance released on vinyl by No Business Records:

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