Sunday, March 7, 2010

David S. Ware Got a Kidney

It occurs to me that that blog title would make a good title for an avant garde ballad.  I posted some time ago on David S. Ware, mentioning the fact that he was in desperate need of a new kidney.  I had this momentary daydream in which my blog post became the connection between the brilliant avant garde tenor and a donor.  It was a  pure 'put me on center stage' kind of fantasy.  I am happy to report that Ware did receive a transplant, from Laura Mehr.  You can read about the connection at that link.  I say: well done, Laura!

On my original post I mentioned one difference between the jazz and classical music genres: long, multi-part compositions are relatively rare in jazz.  Subsequent versions of such works are rarer still, though Ken Laster pointed out that Trane's A Love Supreme has been produced many times by other artists.  I would point out that so has Tranes' Ascension, though I can't figure out why. On that post I reviewed Ware's recording of Sonny Rollin's four movement 'Freedom Suite'. 

This week I have been listening to a three disc recording by the David S. Ware Quartet: Live In The World, which contains another, longer version of 'Freedom Suite'.    Backing Ware are three consummate avant garde artists.  William Parker, one of the most imaginative and brilliant jazz composers plays bass.  Matthew Shipp plays piano.  Shipp reminds me a lot of Parker, perhaps because his recording Pastoral Composure reminds me of Parker's Painter's Spring.  Those two albums are good, accessible introductions to the work of both.  Live In The World presents three concerts.  Different drummers appear on each.

To be sure, this is not music for the inattentive.  Some of the numbers are quite challenging.  Ware's interpretation of 'Freedom Suite' is the kind of thing that should bear a warning: don't try this at home.  But this is also a good album for the hard bop ban to cut some avant garde teeth on.  I especially liked Ware's interpretation of 'The Way We Were.'  There's a lovely if syrupy ballad, almost spoiled by the memory of a dreadful movie.  Ware opens with a long and intense solo that was distant enough from the original melody that it made me wonder if the title was a mere coincident.  But then the piano comes in, and sure enough it's 'The Way We Were.'  Ware's solo had the charming effect of scouring out all my preconceptions about the song, and it allowed me to hear it for the first time without once thinking of Barbara Streisand.  

Ware obviously has a deep interest in Eastern mysticism.  The album highlights these interests.  It is also too easy for a movie star or musician to trivialize a spiritual tradition, but in the best cases the spiritual colors weave into the music and make it more interesting.  This is one of those cases.  'Elder's Path' is a very interesting walk.  

But here is a sample of a more traditional blues.  Susie Ibarra is on drums.  It's finger-licking good.  
Davis S. Ware Quartet/Mikuro's Blues
This gives you some idea of what Ms. Mehr purchased with her kidney.  


  1. It's hard to try to imagind David Ware as hard bop!


  2. Yeah, you got me there, Dan. He's avant garde almost all the way. But the piece I offered would fit on your average a.g. album.