David S. Ware

David S. Ware Biography

David S. Ware was born in Plainfield, New Jersey, on November 7, 1949, and his love of music was nurtured by some dedicated teachers at the Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School. He started his saxophone career on alto ; then switched to baritone, before finally settling on the tenor as his musical voice. « I had played in all the school bands the whole way through junior high and high school, marching band, concert band, dance band and orchestras » As a teen David was an ardent admirer of Sonny Rollins and struck up a relationship with the elder tenor player after seeing him countless times in the mid-'60s at the Five Spot and the Village Vanguard. The two practiced together intermittently through the '70s in Rollins' Brooklyn apartment; it was Rollins who taught young Ware the art of circular breathing in 1966.

By the late-'60s, David was attending music school in Boston and playing on the local scene with Stanton Davis, Cedric Lawson, Art Lande, and Michael Brecker, who later recalled : « I remember how completely wowed I was when I heard David play .. we were about 17 or 18… here was a tremendously gifted artistic and creative presence – an inspiration to all of us ». While in Boston, David met drummer Marc Edwards and pianist Gene Ashton (Cooper-Moore), and together they formed a group called “Apogee”.

By 1973, David had moved to New York and became part of a circle of musicians, including Sam Rivers, David Murray, Butch Morris, Arthur Blythe, Don Pullen, Rashied Ali, and Frank Lowe, who were creating and cultivating their own loft-and-studio performing circuit at that time. Word of David’s potent voice on tenor spread quickly, resulting in a flurry of crucial work. He became a member of the Cecil Taylor Unit in a group that included Marc Edwards, trumpeter Raphe Malik, and the great alto saxophonist Jimmy Lyons, and performed with Taylor’s legendary Carnegie Hall large ensemble. “Ware's distinct sound and Holy Roller fervor were already evident when he was 25, performing in Cecil Taylor's unforgettable 1974 Carnegie Hall big band.” (Gary Giddins - Village Voice – august 1/7 2001). Ware toured with the Cecil Taylor Unit throughout Europe, the U.S. and Canada, and recorded one album with this group, Dark To Themselves (Enja). Subsequently, Beaver Harris replaced Edwards on drums, which led to David joining Harris' 360 Degree Music Experience ensemble. It was also at this time that David joined master drummer Andrew Cyrille's group Maono.

By 1981, David had toured Europe a half-dozen times; with Maono, the Cecil Taylor Unit, and even once with his own group, which included Beaver Harris, Gene Ashton and bassist Brian Smith. He had recorded three albums with Maono, including Metamusicians' Stomp and Special People for the Italian label Black Saint. 1981 was also the year that Birth of a Being was released, David's first album under his own name, a trio date with his compatriots Marc Edwards and Gene Ashton, for the Swiss label Hat Hut. In the early ‘80s, he collaborated with drummer Milford Graves. He toured Europe in 1985 with his own group, a trio with bassist Peter Kowald and either drummer Louis Moholo or Thurman Barker. Later, David served briefly in trumpeter Ahmed Abdullah's band, the Solomonic Quintet, and recorded one self-titled album with them on Silkheart.

Gradually, during the '80s, David's concerns as a saxophonist shifted away from the rush and fury of extended improvisations, and into the area of concentrated thematic development. David formed a trio in 1988 with Marc Edwards and the astonishing bassist William Parker (well-known by this time for his presence in various Taylor groups) and recorded Passage To Music in 1988 for Silkheart. In 1989, Ware put out the word that he was looking for a pianist. William Parker and Reggie Workman both recommended Matthew Shipp : “David got in touch with me and we started playing together. I was a big fan of Ware's work. Playing with Ware is like being at home. My style of piano really fits his compositions. He gives me freedom to be me. He doesn’t put any restrictions on me”.

In 1989, the David S. Ware Quartet was born. From that time through to the present, the only personnel changes would be the drummers: Whit Dickey replaced Marc Edwards in 1992, followed by Susie Ibarra in 1996... « I'm seeing more and more the value of keeping a group together, » says Ware. « Rather than freelance with 14 different bands, you make the group an institution. Looking at jazz over the decades, I feel this is how the music grows the most. Musicians get a chance to be thorough, to know the material and be involved instead of skimming over the surface. » Rather than compromise his musical vision, Ware chose to be patient. « I drove a cab for 14 years. I stayed out of the scene until I was ready to do my thing. » He also refused to do sideman gigs. « Working with other musicians doesn't work for me. Philosophically, I find it difficult to be under someone else's umbrella.

The '90s saw the full-on actualization of this group and the recognition of David S. Ware as a true saxophone collossus. A series of ground-breaking albums by the David S. Ware Quartet were released in rapid succession: Great Bliss Vols. 1 & 2 on the Swiss label Silkheart ; Flight of i, Third Ear Recitation, Earthquation, and Godspelized on the Japanese label DIW; finally, Cryptology, DAO, and Wisdom of Uncertainty on the American labels, Homestead and AUM Fidelity.

In 1997, David was signed to the Columbia Jazz label by Branford Marsalis. "Branford caught my show (Vienne –France 1995) and he really dug what he heard. He was sincerely moved by the music, wbich he hadn't heard before. He really flipped." Two years later, when Branford was named the new creative consultant of Columbia Jazz, he made David S. Ware his first signing. David again, "Musicians worry that once they get a deal with a major label they'll have to water down their music. But Branford said 'don't change a tbing, just keep playing like yourself."

The first album for Columbia, Go See The World, was released in 1998, and it is indeed as unrelentingly powerful as any Quartet record that had come before. Drummer Guillermo E. Brown, the ultimate drummer chair turn, was added to the lineup in February 1999. The second album for Columbia, Surrendered was recorded in October 1999 and released in May 2000. It featured interpolations of Charles Lloyd's "Sweet Georgia Bright" and Beaver Harris' "African Drums," as well as four beautiful new compositions by David S. Ware. Overall more gentle in spirit than anything before in his now vast oeuvre, Surrendered fully showcased the deep sense of swing that had always been at the root of the Ware Quartet's music. After making the two albums for Columbia, ways were parted in December 2000. Wasting no time, AUM Fidelity brought David and the Quartet into the studio in February of 2001. These sessions were the first showcase for David’s interest in expanded sonic templates for the Quartet, and featured Matthew Shipp on synthesizer for the first time. The epic Corridors & Parallels album was the result, released in September 2001.

Shortly thereafter, the SFJazz organization invited the David S. Ware Quartet to perform David's arrangement of Sonny Rollins' “The Freedom Suite” for their 2002 Spring Season. A studio recording of this was made for AUM Fidelity in July and released as Freedom Suite in October 2002.

"This is a perfect opportunity to show the link between me and Sonny," explains Ware, "an opportune time to show how one generation is built upon another and how the relationships work in the whole stream of music that's called jazz."

David would carry the influences of the greatest that shaped the art, but with an original sound that goes beyond. Still his skill go far beyond blowing the saxophone. Matthew Shipp had expressed a strong desire to produce a record for the label Thirstyear (Blue Series) that would showcase David’s talent as a composer. It leads to the recording of THREADS in 2003. Daniel Bernard Roumain on violin and Mat Maneri on viola joins the quartet and Matthew Shipp plays the synthesizer using strings setting on most of the pieces. The music resulting, built on delicate cinematic sounding rhythms and hooks, is revealing a classical sensibility, sounding like jazz chamber music. On some tracks, Ware's sax is nowhere to be heard, but his artistry is there in the form of his compositional skill.

David explains. "I'm interested in using different techniques to get to a place of transcendence. The thing that makes music great is that it's an infinite thing, an endless thing. Personally, I'm interested in going down more than one path, as far as the form, the melody are concerned. I don't want to restrict myself as to what area or style of music I can deal with."

Still after more than 15 years of touring and playing with his quartet all over Europe and in the USA, in spite of a tremendous amount of astounding reviews acclaiming each of its live appearance, the David S Ware S quartet had yet never released any live recording. As if making up for lost time, Live in the World, released in 2004, is a three-disc blowout taken from three different shows, each with a different drummer. His long-time sidemen, pianist Matthew Shipp and bassist William Parker, are constant throughout, but the person filling the drummer's chair changes from disc to disc.

The first disc features the earliest recording, a 1998 show in Chiasso, Switzerland, with Susie Ibarra on drums. Much of the material comes from Ware's 1998 Columbia Records debut, Go See the World. That show takes up not only the entirety of the first disc, but is used for bonus tracks that round out the second and third discs as well. The second disc is a perfomance recorded in Terni (Italy), with Hamid Drake. The tracklist is the set's most eclectic, drawing on five different albums over a period of eight years. From "Elder's Path" on Passage to Music through "Manu's Ideal" on 1996's Oblations and Blessings The third contains the quartet's take on Sonny Rollins' Freedom Suite recorded in Milano, Italy, in 2003 with current quartet drummer Guillermo E. Brown.

“We did “Freedom Suite” a number of times throughout Europe” Ware says. “On this particular concert, we decided that we’d been doing it a certain way, so let’s try to open it up even more and break up the form a little bit. That’s exactly what happened in that concert, we broke up the form and built various parts of it differently that we had. During the concert, I knew that we touched on the transcendental several times as we played it. Sometimes you don’t realize what you’re touching upon, but this is one of those rare occasions…The music transcended, it went beyond itself, it went beyond playing music and it touched upon the spiritual plane. This is one of the ultimate things in musical experience, to touch upon that universal, that cosmic reality, that makes us all related. That makes us, all human beings on this planet, truly brothers and sisters”.

David S. Ware Bio from Discogs

American jazz saxophonist.

Born : November 07, 1949 in Plainfield, New Jersey.

Died : October 18, 2012 in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Dave played with : Stanton Davis, Cedric Lawson, Art Lande, Michael Brecker, "Apogee", Sam Rivers, David Murray, Butch Morris, Arthur Blythe, Don Pullen, Rashied Alì, Cecil Taylor and others.

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