Ware & Shipp Duo

Live In Sant’Anna Arresi, 2004

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