David S. Ware - "Minus Gravity 1 (excerpt)" (Organica (Solo Saxophones, Vol. 2))
Since his return to public performance after beating kidney disease, David S. Ware has made some of the most extraordinary music of his career. He has employed differing instrumental configurations, bringing musicians from his past into new aggregates and exploring fresh soundworlds. Despite a steady stream of releases, there is nothing repetitive about his recent music, and this second volume of solo saxophone performances presents yet another evolution of Ware’s art.
On these two 2010 concerts, presented complete, Ware plays sopranino in public for the first time. It graces the two versions of “Minus Gravity,” an alternately hypnotic and frenetic study in large-scale motivic architecture. At the outset, a few notes steak their claims, bold but beautiful, each phrase followed by anticipatory silence. Ware then moves through vast sonic terrains and modal/tonal environments with mind-boggling rapidity, but never loses the simple yet fundamental ability to communicate, to transmit a message with each phrase or line, no matter how long and complex. I often found myself breathing with him, waiting for the next statement.
The effect of the disc’s other two offerings is similar; on both renderings of the title track, Ware’s on tenor. There’s no need to speak of his virtues on that instrument, but to cite just one example, there’s a point where Ware introduces multiphonics only to fragment them, each component becoming integral to the segment immediately following, which is both another complete statement of purpose and a new beginning. The first “Organica” is the longest piece on offer here, clocking in at nearly 25 minutes, while the second is ten minutes briefer.
What I am unable to describe is the way each moment flows into the next. These are not the arch-like structures of Ware’s one-time employer, Cecil Taylor, nor are they the post-Anton Webernian utterances often associated with previous generations of European improvisers. Yet, there is such a fluidity to the music, such a Protean energy throughout, that predictability is left far behind. I could cite so many names from the past whose spirit is manifest in these excursions. Tune into the opening of “Organica 2,” with its suddenly shifting dynamics and gorgeously bent pitches, each phrase imbued with space, and you might remember Ben Webster or Coleman Hawkins in their primes. Travel a few seconds down the road, and Ware’s evoking the altos of Eric Dolphy or Jimmy Lyons, not only with nimble leaps but in the surprising way his tenor leaps the registers, conjuring alto timbres. Suddenly, with a miniscule flurry of growled notes, Albert Ayler has arisen. If Anthony Braxton’s rapid-fire approach to sopranino is momentarily present, it is then subsumed into Ware’s huge complement of tones, timbres and techniques. A dip into gut-bucket blues or ghostly sentimentality is just as soon erased from memory by a long-held note, redolent of jasmine, or a quick trip to the East and back. He knows history and transcultural import, brings his knowledge to bear, then moves along.