a documentary on david s ware from 2000

When David S Ware passed away in 2012, the world of Free-Jazz suffered a massive blow. He was one of the forms true champions and brightest lights. Ware entered the New York scene at the end of its moment in the spotlight, and at the beginning of it’s most remarkable period of creativity. After his incredible debut in 1971 on Abdul Al-Hannan’s – The Third World, ‎ he worked with Milton Marsh, Andrew Cyrille, Cecil Taylor, and William Hooker, as well as in countless live collaborations sprawling across the “Loft Era.At the end of the decade he ventured out as a leader, and promptly began issuing a string of striking and ambitious releases into an increasingly unsympathetic context. He is one of those rare players, who in the face of great odds, never compromised and never gave up. A few mornings ago, as I tried to pry my eyes open with a cup of coffee, I came across this documentary about him from 2000. At first it didn’t look that great. The production value is pretty low. I figured I’d watch it for a moment as I woke up, before moving on. I can’t put my finger on why, but as it progressed I found myself completely consumed. It encounters Ware with the last realization of his classic quartet, comprised of Matthew Shipp, William Parker and Guillermo E. Brown. I’m a huge fan of Parker and Shipp. I’ll run at nearly anything they touch. It’s a rare treat to hear them speak and recount across the film. Brown I could take or leave. It’s a film where nothing really happens – a window into the musicians’ world. We hear them practice and try to pull it together. We hear stories and short histories. That’s about it. Yet Ware towers as a striking and compelling figure. You can’t take your eyes off him. You can’t help wonder what he’ll say or play next. The film brings one of Free-Jazz’s greatest voices back into our lives, and reminds us how much he’s missed. At the end of the day, who could ask for more?

-Bradford Bailey

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