David S. Ware Shakti Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

A mighty return for one of the greatest players alive today.

Chris Jones 2009

Most fans of David S. Ware know him as the precocious, restless, driven genius who blew away Michael Brecker when he first heard him; the tenor sax player who accompanied Cecil Taylor during one of his most fertile periods and who also wowed the free jazz community along with Matthew Shipp for nigh on 20 years with his quartet. Shakti sees him return with a new concept that will be a delight for those subscribe to the church of free jazz.

The title tell you all you need to know about Ware's opinion on the place of the spiritual in avant garde jazz. Like Coltrane and many others the Eastern themes reflect Ware's interests in using the cosmic (in this case Hindu mythology) to signify nothing less than man's unity. However this isn't all modal scales and sub-Saharan wailing, by any means: Ware is one of those players with such a complete mastery of his instrument that when he blows he does it to his own tune.

Fans of his quartet will be pleased to hear that he's still working with one of THE best bassists in the world, William Parker, though there's no sign of the great Marc Edwards. instead we have veteran Warren Smith (a man whose cv stretches from Aretha to Max roach) on the drums. Free jazz being the beast it is, it's not surprise that Ware has limited most recent releases to live documents. So this is a welcome return to the studio, with the more out-there tendencies reined in a little to give cuts like the opening Crossing Samsara more of a grounding in bop and blues, especially when doubling up lines with guitarist Joe Morris.

It's Parker, though who really shines here. his bowing on Nataraj adds gravitas. Ware gives each player plenty of room for soloing: on the more world-oriented Namah he actually plays mbira for the first half, letting Parker's harmonics add the atmosphere. While never truly letting loose as he is liable to do on stage, this more measured approach makes for a mighty return for one of the greatest players alive today.

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