Music

David S. Ware: Organica (Solo Saxophones, Volume 2)

He may be 61, and he may have a new kidney, but David S. Ware continues to run over people's expectations with every new project.


David S. Ware

Organica (Solo Saxophones, Volume 2)

Label: AUM Fidelity
US Release Date: 2011-10-25
Label website
Artist website
Amazon
iTunes

Reviewing this album is a toughie. Those of you reading this review are probably already more than curious about saxophonist extraordinaire David S. Ware. If you aren't that familiar with him, then a 77-minute album of solo saxophone performances is probably just about the last thing that would be considered a lure for you. These kinds of albums are capable of even driving the free-jazz fans crazy. I had a brief conversation with one such fan on some message board, where he admitted to walking out of a Roscoe Mitchell solo performance. They like their music cerebral and challenging, but everyone has their limits. Enough was enough, this guy was telling us. So how do we go about discussing the un-discussable?

For one thing, David S. Ware has played the big league, major label game. Granted, it wasn't for very long, but his addition to the Columbia roster in the late '90s was an attempt to bring an art form hard up on popularity to a wider audience. For a while, it seemed to be working, as David Fricke's liner notes for 2000's Surrendered tell the story of Ware's band winning over a crowd that had paid to see Sonic Youth. It may be hard to detect at first, but there is crossover appeal at work. Secondly, Ware is no stranger to the absolute solo format. He did this same thing a year ago on Saturnian: Solo Saxophones, Volume 1, one of the first projects he took on after receiving a kidney transplant (the idea of circular breathing continues to baffle me, let alone doing it while still recovering from a procedure that replaces one of your organs). This experience is channeled into the next entry of the solo series, Organica (Solo Saxophones, Volume 2).

There are additional variables to consider. For one thing, this album is made up of two programs, the first one coming from a very private Brooklyn performance and the second one from Ware's slot at the Umbrella Music Festival in Chicago. In addition to that, Ware took two horns with him to each gig. The one you see on the cover is his sopranino, which he plays first at each show. The rest of the sets are played on the tenor sax. Organica (Solo Saxophones, Volume 2) consists of only four tracks; "Minus Gravity 1", "Organica 1", "Minus Gravity 2", and "Organica 2". The "Gravity" ones are the sopranino numbers and the album's namesakes are for the tenor with one=Brooklyn and two=Chicago.

The differences between the two "Minus Gravity" tracks probably owe a lot to the nature of the venues. The invitation-only Brooklyn performance likely had a smaller crowd (No applause is included between numbers), keeping Ware's flights of fancy on the sopranino lower to the ground. He can still rattle off a mean million-notes-long lick, but it's the Chicago engagement that finds him pushing the instrument into its upper register. If "Minus Gravity 1" is a virtuosic search disguised as a meditation, then "Minus Gravity 2" jumps in the air and stays there for a good six minutes longer than its prequel. The same thing happens to a lesser degree for "Organica". The Brooklyn rendition sounds like Ware is leading the room in some kind of free-jazz yoga session designed to push someone off into blissful distraction, going on for over 24 minutes. The Chicago track has a bluesy kind of skronk to offset its companion track, making his saxophone appropriately more dirty for the devoted jazz faithfuls in attendance. And an appreciative crowd they are. Since the operation, they are probably relishing Ware's continued presence more and more each passing day.

So that's what you have: 77 minutes from the emotional gut filtered through studied hands. It's not soul music, but it is music from the soul that acts as a radical form of escapism. I imagine it's better to see it in person, but Organica (Solo Saxophones, Volume 2) is certainly close enough.

7

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less
Culture

Net Neutrality and the Music Ecosystem: Defending the Last Mile

Still from Whiplash (2014) (Photo by Daniel McFadden - © Courtesy of Sundance Institute) (IMDB)

"...when the history books get written about this era, they'll show that the music community recognized the potential impacts and were strong leaders." An interview with Kevin Erickson of Future of Music Coalition.

Last week, the musician Phil Elverum, a.k.a. Mount Eerie, celebrated the fact that his album A Crow Looked at Me had been ranked #3 on the New York Times' Best of 2017 list. You might expect that high praise from the prestigious newspaper would result in a significant spike in album sales. In a tweet, Elverum divulged that since making the list, he'd sold…six. Six copies.

Keep reading... Show less

Under the lens of cultural and historical context, as well as understanding the reflective nature of popular culture, it's hard not to read this film as a cautionary tale about the limitations of isolationism.

I recently spoke to a class full of students about Plato's "Allegory of the Cave". Actually, I mentioned Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" by prefacing that I understood the likelihood that no one had read it. Fortunately, two students had, which brought mild temporary relief. In an effort to close the gap of understanding (perhaps more a canyon or uncanny valley) I made the popular quick comparison between Plato's often cited work and the Wachowski siblings' cinema spectacle, The Matrix. What I didn't anticipate in that moment was complete and utter dissociation observable in collective wide-eyed stares. Example by comparison lost. Not a single student in a class of undergraduates had partaken of The Matrix in all its Dystopic future shock and CGI kung fu technobabble philosophy. My muted response in that moment: Whoa!

Keep reading... Show less
9
Books

'The Art of Confession' Ties Together Threads of Performance

Allen Ginsberg and Robert Lowell at St. Mark's Church in New York City, 23 February 1977

Scholar Christopher Grobe crafts a series of individually satisfying case studies, then shows the strong threads between confessional poetry, performance art, and reality television, with stops along the way.

Tracing a thread from Robert Lowell to reality TV seems like an ominous task, and it is one that Christopher Grobe tackles by laying out several intertwining threads. The history of an idea, like confession, is only linear when we want to create a sensible structure, the "one damn thing after the next" that is the standing critique of creating historical accounts. The organization Grobe employs helps sensemaking.

Keep reading... Show less
9
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image