Wednesday, March 17, 2010

David S. Ware Solo in Park Slope

David S. Ware's solo concert in Park Slope was a remarkable event that I wasn't sure I was going to remark on.  Mostly because a solo saxophone performance is a daunting thing to try to write about (for me, at least).  But when I tried searching for other accounts and couldn't find any, I figured I should at least make a few comments:

The space used for the performance, in a private residence in Park Slope, was a beaut, on an upper floor with a great view of the Williamsburg Savings Bank.  Now a book-and-record-filled apartment, it was the former base of operations for AUM Fidelity Records and (many decades) before that, the poker room for some sort of Brooklyn Republican Club, with a decorative wood ceiling and wall paneling with faux-candle gas jet fixtures.  If the contemporary furnishings were taken out and the gas jets lit, this would be a perfect space for a secret society meeting or dark Masonic ritual.

I was very impressed by the quality and range of sound Ware got out of the sopranino sax, apparently a new instrument for him (or was it just that this particular sopranino was new?).  I hadn't imagined that the sopranino was capable of producing such a broad and rich array of tones, my knowledge of the instrument based mostly on hearing Anthony Braxton play it (and that's not a knock on Braxton's playing).

Even if you didn't like Ware's music, you would have to admit that the man is loud, an extremely powerful player.  This huge sound married to a huge level of technique is an overwhelming, even slightly terrifying when he really lets rip, thing to be in the same room with.

Near the end of the final, tenor portion of the performance I started concentrating on Ware's breathing and how the spacing of his breaths imposed a kind of structure on the music, probably the most easily discernible kind of structure it had.

The Q&A that followed the performance offered a chance to come down from, process, and hopefully better understand the music we had just experienced.  Some of the questions that provoked the most interesting responses from Ware came from someone sitting down front who I think might have been Charles Gayle, though I didn't get a good look (maybe somebody who was there can confirm in the comments).

Ware tantalized us with his stories of three-hour free blowing sessions with Sonny Rollins and also mentioned, apropos the incredibly dramatic windstorm that was happening outside during and after the performance, that he shared with Rollins the belief that weather like this somehow inspires better music (a Neil Young & Crazy Horse performance I witnessed in a violent Chicago thunderstorm would lead me to agree).  The Q&A may have gone on a bit long, detouring toward the end into the fate of the dinosaurs, 2012, and other cosmic and terrestrial topics, but it was a rare, extremely valuable opportunity to hear a master speak in depth about his music.

I found a couple of photos from the event, which, I forgot to mention, was recorded for a future AUM release, and some other very cool music-related photos here.
[Update: Many more photos here.]


Steven/AUM said...

Steve, nice to see this post. The audience member who prompted some of the best responses from David during the Q&A was -not- Charles Gayle (who was not in attendance), but Cooper-Moore, a long-time fellow traveler of David's. Cooper-Moore recently posted an amazing retrospective of his own work (within this post, largely solo) of the past 2 decades.
Definitely check it out:

Steve said...

Thanks for the comment! I've heard some of Cooper-Moore's music - first heard him on St. Louis' KDHX - but never knew what he looked like. Thought I heard DSW call him "Charles" but I obviously misheard.