Friday, October 19, 2012

David S. Ware 1949-2012

Photo by Michael Jackson
Wasn't that a man?

David S. Ware made a mighty sound, and was one of those musicians whose soulfulness was evident in every note he played.

At times, he seemed to be indomitable. I saw him once at the Victoriaville festival just after the taxi cab he drove had been broadsided in an accident. Ware was on crutches, and in obvious pain, but he put everything he had into his playing. He always did.

The fact that he seemed to rebound from a kidney transplant was no surprise, but in the end he couldn't beat the disease.

There is a big outpouring of love for Ware around social media today, and I believe a large part of the connection people felt to him was the fact that he was a bridge to the giants (John Coltrane and Albert Ayler) that many of us didn't get to see in their prime. Ware was a worthy heir to their no-holds-barred sonic attack, and he attracted a large number of young fans who grew up listening to various genres of electric rock music. He welcomed them all, and introduced them to young musicians like Matthew Shipp and Susie Ibarra, helping to propel their careers into a broader realm.

David S. Ware: Big spirit. You will be missed.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Jazz In Canada's Walled City

Heading off this week for the sixth Quebec City International Jazz Festival, which always forms a nice bridge between the end of the summer festival season and Winter Jazzfest in New York City.

Festival founder Gino Ste-Marie and his crew continue their tradition of focusing on a single instrument. This year, it's the trumpet, with featured guests Ingrid Jensen, Arturo Sandoval, Jeremy Pelt, Christian Scott, Paolo Fresu, Erik Truffaz, Tiger Okoshi, Joe Sullivan and Ron Di Lauro. Other highlights include Robert Glasper's Experiment, Gretchen Parlato, Ran Blake and the duo of Marc Copland and Gary Peacock.

It's been interesting to track the growth of this festival over the past few years. This year's event spans some 20 venues, spreading the music throughout Quebec's capital city.

I'll be reporting for DownBeat's website, as well as posting some comments here.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Taking Stock

With October upon us I suppose it's time to take a quick scan across the 2012 releases, with a view to getting some idea of how tough it will be to assemble a top 10 list. Some years, the cream just rises to the top, and there's not much of an issue with seeing a broad divide between the best and the rest. I get the feeling that this is not one of those years. Let's look!

Yup, my memory didn't fail me; I had earmarked seven great CDs prior to May, and I've definitely heard as many terrific things since then.

So, some early contenders: Obviously, that long-lost recording by Keith Jarrett's European quartet is high on the list, as is arranger Ryan Truesdell's exploration of equally obscure material by Gil Evans. Hard to overlook the recordings by Henry Threadgill's Zooid and Vijay Iyer's trio, and that Blue Note recording by Ravi Coltrane was full of great music.

Just recently, I was bowled over by a new live recording by the Japanese quartet Gato Libre, which I've reviewed for an upcoming issue of DownBeat, and I've loved what I've heard of Dave Douglas' new quintet, though I haven't heard the actual recording yet, just the video and a live NPR set. And then, there are a bunch of real dark horses; in fact, I can't recall a year when the contenders have included so many artists that I've never placed on a year-end poll before.

Some hard decisions ahead, but I'm looking forward to listening to it all again.

Addendum: The Dave Douglas arrived, and lived up to its promise. Oh, and then Joe Lovano had to go and release a new CD, too. But the real surprise in the past couple of weeks has been the live album by Nik Bärtsch's Ronin.