David S. Ware Quartet - Renunciation (AUM Fidelity, 2007)
Renunciation is the act of declaring that something is surrendered or disowned. Sadly, that is the case with this group one of the most lauded avant-jazz ensembles of recent memory. Made up of Ware on tenor saxophone, Matthew Shipp on piano, William Parker on bass and a revolving cast of drummers culminating here with Gulliermo E. Brown. This is a live document of the group's final performance, recorded at the 2006 Vision Festival in New York City. After an elaborate introduction, the group takes the stage and launches into a fiery performance with "Ganesh Sound", a darkly billowing collective improvisation that recalls the spiritual free jazz of the 1960's new thing era. The three part "Renunciation Suite" follows. After all the great music that this group is made, it is sad to think that they may be "renouncing" each other and all of the negative connotations that the word implies. It's understandable though that these men, all leaders in their own right would eventually go their separate ways to work on their own individual projects. The first part of the suite is an epic 18 minute improvisation culminating with some sparkling piano playing in a very spacious and open vibe. The highlight of the entire disc comes next, as the band launches into part two of the suite with a fire-breathing fervor. The scalding six minute group improvisation is reminiscent of some of the very intense albums the group made in the mid 1990's like Cryptology and Dao on the Homestead label. The suite finally ends with an elastic bass feature for Parker. "Mikuro's Blues" and a reprise of "Ganesh Sound" end the concert proper with some more open ended improv, and the group is called back for a short encore of the stuttering "Saturnian." This is a fine bow for a sure to become legendary group. This group was a protean force in to world of jazz recording many albums and preforming around the worlds to great impact. They will be missed.
Addendum: Anne Dumas, who manages the David S. Ware Quartet in Europe e-mailed me to say that the group might not be finished yet: ""If the band is asked, it will be possible to see them together again. The problem is not that they have something else to do, it is just that the "market" or the "scene", does not welcome them very much or not enough and there is a great lack of enthusiasm and of support from the "jazzworld" specially in the USA. So that it is not a decision that they took, David never declared it was the end of his band. Just for you to know, the DSWQ lives, at least here in Europe...." Great news!
Send comments to: Tim