David S. Ware

Saturnian: Solo Saxophones, Vol. 1

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Precedent-setting solo saxophonists in jazz are certainly few and far between, but Roscoe Mitchell and Sonny Rollins have pulled it off. David S. Ware certainly has the tools to do it, while commanding attention with every phrase or phase he goes through. What sets him far apart from the others is that this live set features a different instrument on each of the three selections -- saxello, stritch, and his trusty tenor sax. This is titled as the first volume from a complete concert performance at the Abrons Art Center in N.Y.C., but is, in total, under 40 minutes long. There's plenty of meaty music to keep one's rapt attention, but the tracks are thankfully short enough not to drone into tedium. On the straight, rich saxello, Ware places value on various riffs and runs that are quite melodic, as "Methone" pushes the envelope of harmonic displacement in a common-sense free improv that carries the day and consistently lingers. Made famous by Rahsaan Roland Kirk, the rather tall and lengthy stritch in Ware's hands yields squawks and squeaks with pauses for concern, as "Pallene" expresses a gospel-sounding repast that recalls Kirk's famous "The Inflated Tear" from a pure sonic standpoint. "Anthe" ("Anthem" missing the m?) is a calmer and deeper spontaneous composition where Ware's tenor sax adopts a near serene and spiritual stance, with only occasional flourishes, honks, and screamed accents. There's no wasted motion or overt histrionics here, just the expertly devised and soulful playing of a masterful musician who can create his own rhythm internally. These three pieces flow beautifully, not in the strictest angelic, pretty, or peaceful fashion, but with the clear, assured dignity and confidence Ware has always displayed. It's not intended for garden-variety jazz listeners, but for fans and those aware of the gifts of this giant-stepping innovator in modern creative music.

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