R.I.P. David S. Ware

Well, damn:

Very sad news from Patricia Parker.

Tonight, a giant has fallen. David S. Ware, the great saxophonist, died tonight, October 18, 2012. What an incredible loss! What a great musician and spirit! His tremendous sound, his spirit, his music, is irreplaceable.

Music holds Us

when there is more information we will let you know.

That’s from the Jazz Corner bulletin board, posted by Bernard Lyons.

Peter Hum of the Ottawa Citizen has posted a more full obituary, with video clips. It’s worth a read. I haven’t found independent confirmation yet.

Ware’s life was dramatically saved three years ago by a kidney transplant from a stranger, and it’s good that he was able to keep making music in the years he had left. I ended up following that saga on this blog, so here are the postings, if you haven’t heard it all before:

It’s saddening to think of yet another legend — a very big one, this time — who got just a fraction of the recognition he deserved, but it’s comforting to know Ware did find an audience. Branford Marsalis even got Ware recorded on Columbia Records, a well deserved coup. David S. Ware made a sound that needed to be heard, and it was heard, and that’s something to celebrate.


UPDATE: Accolades are coming in from all over the Web. Mike at Avant Music News compiled a good collection of links.

David S. Ware Returns

David S. Ware — Saturnian (AUM Fidelity, 2010)

Like closure and a new beginning all in one: This is the concert that Ware performed on Oct. 15, 2009, his first show after a life-saving kidney transplant.

The recording, roughly 39 minutes, consists of three pieces, each played on a different type of saxophone.

Track 1: The saxello, fleet and darting. It lacks the wonderfully blusterous punch of the tenor sax but it’s still a delight, opening the concert with an energetic vibe like the sound of good health and grateful  joy. I guess there’s no reason to assume Ware’s sax playing would have suffered — it’s not like he had arthritis or asthma — but it’s still nice to hear, quickly, that he’s in top-notch form. He goes nuts with a high swirling riff near the end — it’s a repetitious passage but inserted at the right point to make what’s effectively a climactic moment followed by a long conclusion.

Track 2: Stritch, a.k.a. Beuscher straight alto.  Lower register, still blurry fast in its phrasing. But this time, Ware settles into a generally calmer demeanor, more conversational, or maybe more like a monologue, with fewer of the quick-flip runs of tough-to-discern harmony. Wraps up nicely.

Track 3: Finally, that tenor sound!  Rich and throaty, starting with a few introductory notes, a tap on the shoulder, before touching on deeper sounds and fast-running phrases. There’s a raspy soulfulness to the quick flurries of notes, with low barks to punctuate phrases. It ends in an ecstatic upper-range squeal and a brief, spoken thank you from Ware.

It’s interesting to hear Ware against a blank backdrop; he seems to use the space differently than he does with his quartet, which is dominated by that grand, reverent, towering sound (as on this video clip from the Sant’Anna Arresi Jazz Festival 2004).  And the concert is a nice snippet of history.

So good to hear Ware back in action and back to health.  Now, if I can only manage to see him play live someday.

David S. Ware: Back at Work

The New York Times reports that David S. Ware was back on stage Thursday night, his first appearance after a life-saving kidney transplant.

The story goes through the whole mini-drama of Steven Joerg (of AUM Fidelity records) putting out his plea to fans over Ware’s situation.

The article’s short and heartwarming. The Times interviewed Ware and kidney donor Laura Mehr.

Thanks to Avant Music News and Twitterer @lynhortonmusart for pointing this out.

Good News Regarding David S. Ware

I’m late in noting this (stick to Love, Gloom, Cash, Love for a more up-to-date viewpoint), but AUM Fidelity is reporting terrific news regarding David S. Ware’s search for a new kidney: They found a donor, and an operation date has been set.

It’s a terrific story. You can read it all on the AUM Fidelity site (click on “Artists,” then “David S. Ware”) or by jumping directly to this page … or by reading what’s cutted-and-pasted below.

Dear friends, fans and extended family of the AUM Community:

It is with much happiness to report some great news on David’s journey. The first of the beautiful people who came forward in response to the call for help – this particular beautiful person being Laura Mehr – has passed the screening process with flying colors, and a date – May 5th – has been scheduled for the kidney transplant operation.

In the 8 weeks leading up to this date, David will of course continue his intensive daily dialysis regimen, and following the operation he will have at least a 3 month recuperation period.

In response to our initial email, a number of folks inquired about sending donations to David to help cover expenses during this period of time in which he has not been and will not be able to work. Though David has Medicare coverage for the operation, there are also other related expenses which Medicare does not cover, such as flying Laura up from her residence in Florida for the screening process and then again for the coming operation itself. Any such donations would be greatly appreciated. If you would like to do so:

You can PayPal to this address/account: aum@aumfidelity.com
in which case, please include a simple note, “for David S. Ware support”
You can also send check or money orders made out to David S. Ware to:

……..AUM Fidelity
……..PO Box 170147
……..Brooklyn, NY 11217

To all who forwarded and posted our original email with the critical news of his search, please do the same with this notice and this URL: http://www.aumfidelity.com/david-s-ware-health.html, in order that the good news be spread as well!

A note from donor Laura Mehr:

Over 30 years ago, my husband and David shared time and spiritual understanding. During Maurice’s lifetime as a spiritual aspirant and transcendent artist, Maurice talked affectionately about David and the mutual artistic understandings and spiritual connections they shared.

“When Maurice passed on almost two years ago, I contacted David to let him know that Maurice had passed. About a year after that, a friend of mine was in need of a kidney transplant, and I volunteered to be tested. Before I could be tested, my friend received a kidney from the UNOS transplant list. This was a great happy surprise to both of us, and he is now home and his new kidney is functioning well. Less than 48 hours after I got the news that my friend had received his transplant, Steven sent out the appeal about David’s situation. My stunned reaction that this could be happening so quickly, gave way to the even greater surprise that as with my friend, David and I were the same blood type. I did not hesitate to volunteer, as I knew that this was not simply happenstance, but divine intervention. As David later said “Life is truly stranger than fiction”.

“Things have moved quickly from that point, and all tests have come back as a match, and we are ready, on May 5th, to cross that bright line where giving and receiving are actually one and the same.”
–Laura Mehr

And a link to Laura’s website:

Thank you Laura(!) and to all once again for your emails and energy of support; here’s to full-on success on May 5th and forward!

Steven Joerg
AUM Fidelity

David S. Ware: New Energy

Source: AUM Fidelity

I’m listening to Shakti, the much-lauded David S. Ware CD that officially got released this week, and I’m struck by the change in his style over the years. Shakti‘s quartet playing is still edgy but has such a warm, cushiony feel.

But wait — is this just me? I mean, I’ve recently sampled Dao and Cryptology, CDs from about 15 years ago: aggressive playing with pointy corners. Shakti is certainly different from that. But is it all that different from Ware’s work of five or even 10 years ago, when he got that brief contract with Columbia? Am I just being fooled because Matthew Shipp‘s marble-hall piano chords are replaced by Joe Morris‘ jazz guitar?

Time for a taste test. I go to Ware’s Live in the World and drop a 2003 disc into the CD player. I hit shuffle.

(OK, shuffle is bad: It picks “Lexicon,” three minutes of scorched-earth blasting. That’s the encore track, so it doesn’t count. Next.)

Continue reading “David S. Ware: New Energy”