Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Bill Ware: Sir Duke

This is a disc of bright, light music in the form of duets by vibist Bill Ware and guitarist Marc Ribot-no bass or drums, for more players would just muddy the interplay. And beginning with the opening “C Jam Blues,” in which the pair gets into a hot Modern Jazz Quartet-like mood of close commentary on each other, the interplay is appealing. The program is more of the old Ellington standards that most everybody plays, except that Ware and Ribot like to take the music away from Ellington’s original moods. For example, they play “I Got It Bad” in a medium-tempo groove, “Come Sunday” like a ballad, “Mood Indigo” as a waltz and they play an ornate fantasia on the theme of the swinging “It Don’t Mean a Thing.” And so on.

In this age of revivalism, it is a compliment to say that Ware and Ribot would have fit well in the 1950s. Ware doesn’t actually play like Milt Jackson-he’s more decorative, and in place of Bags’ linear directness, baroque theme-and-variations are close to Ware’s heart (hear halfway through the solo vibes piece “Solitude”). Despite his more electrified sound, Ribot plays like a mid-’50s melodic bop guitarist with bluesy flatted chords added, though he too has baroque moments. The pair keeps swapping solo and accompaniment roles back and forth throughout the disc, and it’s all clever, pleasant music.

Originally Published