David S. Ware's second Columbia release is characteristically aggressive and anguished, but it is not atonal. The album features four Ware originals, all of which possess clear compositional form and harmonic structure. Ware's solos may be filled with squawks and wails -- hallmarks of free jazz -- but he is making the chord changes. "Peace Celestial," "Theme of Ages," and "Surrendered" are based on rubato statements of fairly simple chordal and/or melodic motifs. Ware and pianist Matthew Shipp play solos while bassist William Parker and drummer Guillermo E. Brown react in sturdy and empathic fashion. As these tracks play, one envisions landscapes dramatic and vast yet rocky and imposing. "Glorified Calypso," in contrast, bounces along with a buoyancy different in mood from the other cuts.
Two of the tracks are non-originals. Beaver Harris's "African Drums" begins with a 6/8 figure that resembles the vamp of Coltrane's "My Favorite Things"; an off-kilter and rather ugly harmonic shift occurs in the middle four bars of the form. "Sweet Georgia Bright" by Charles Lloyd begins with a medium swing feel and goes in and out of double-time for the solos. It's as straight-ahead an arrangement as Ware will ever play, but as the entire album reveals, Ware's music contains more conventional harmony, melody, and rhythm than is often supposed.