Thursday, September 8, 2011

David S. Ware: Planetary Unknown

David S. Ware (sax)
Planetary Unknown (AUM Fidelity; 2011)
Muhammad Ali (drums)
William Parker (bass)
Cooper Moore (piano)

Reaching far out and beyond has been a hallmark of David S. Ware's music since first bursting on to the scene, over three decades ago.

He has said on many occasions that he is not looking for the notes or the chords. It's the overall direction and the journey the music takes you on that should be the focus. This is what you get on Ware's latest, Planetary Unknown (AUM Fidelity).

Ware's interpretation of sound is beautiful and nearly indescribable. Yes, there is the free jazz element that lays itself on top of the consciousness of the listener but there is a much deeper exploration to be found with each release.

Planetary Unknown is mainly one long improvised session but the one difference here is the musicians have very rarely worked together (with the exception of Parker) so this was not only an unknown adventure but also discovery of what other worldly themes would develop. The epic and endearing opener "Passage Wundang" moves from soft yet intense to blistering and encompassing without notice. Ware's passages over the top of Ali's pulsating drums are rapturous.  Ali later gives way to an emotional yet sparse Moore who utilizes the space underneath to set some key tones. Ware and Parker later rejoin in a subtle blues-like fashion before they all fade to black.

"Duality Is One" actually does start off with "some-what slightly" noticeable string of chords, before spinning into the main theme--an improvised battle between drummer and saxophonist. It's great to see both musicians challenging each other and hit near unreachable notes. Ware really wails and Ali adjusts to the call with ease just as Ware's usually sparing partner William Smith has done for years. "Ancestry Supramental" and "Crystal Palace" both feature some tight rhythmic patterns from Moore that counter Ware's frenetic flow along with Parker and Ali's pulverizing timing. There are hypnotic moments in both pieces no matter how chaotic it may sound.

Planetary Unknown is the sound of an elder statesman who hasn't lost a single step. David S. Ware keeps reaching upward and out. Leaving this world and showing us the way to a new altogether more interesting one. All aboard...

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