By Bill Meyer | Published January 2017
Subtraction won’t increase your numbers, but try pruning a tree and see how it grows. In 2004, when this concert was recorded, the David S. Ware Quartet was 15 years old. While undeniably formidable, it was a known quantity, and therefore ripe for a change. This set, which took place at a jazz festival in Sardinia, did the trick. Not only did it remove the rhythm section, but by presenting the two musicians as a duo, it shook up the quartet’s leader-combo hierarchy.
Both players respond with a freshness of approach that makes one wish that they could have explored this setting further. In the quartet, Shipp provides sonic ballast and a harmonic foundation; he could also be an agent of chaos, laying waste to tunes like “The Way We Were.” But without a bass and drums to support or challenge, he is more of a builder than a destroyer, using block chords and wide screens of silence to create a rich environment for Ware, who creates rivers of sound that feel like they’re doing millennia of geography-transforming work in a span of minutes. Shipp also spends considerable time under his piano’s lid, creating otherworldly bursts of pure, fragile sound that contrast most productively with Ware’s fiery blowing. DB
Live In Sant’Anna Arresi, 2004: Tao Flow Part 1; Tao Flow Part 2; Encore. (45:58)
Personnel: David S. Ware, tenor saxophone; Matthew Shipp, piano.