“Come on girls, we’re going to put you in the magazine,” says David S. Ware, calling Bibi and Mikuro into the music room of his three-story house in Scotch Plains, N.J. “My dogs make me smile.”
The saxophonist’s soft side balances his loud tones on the bandstand, but Ware doesn’t consider himself to be simply fiery onstage and friendly off. “I don’t relate with those categories,” he says. “To tell you the truth, I don’t identify with being a musician. That’s what I do, but that’s not who I am. I’m spiritual, first and foremost.”
The 53-year-old’s unclipped beard and crumpled forehead project the image of a meditative man, but when you get Ware talking about cars, his eyes light up, his smile widens and his eyebrows elevate. “I’ve got a 1990 Mustang GT. It’s in very good condition. It’s a fast car, and I wish it could go faster. Yes, my ticket record is long, but I haven’t gotten a ticket in six years,” he says with a wink and a laugh.
Taking a ride in Ware’s sports car sounds like fun, but with the rain pounding outside, sipping on our tea and honey sounds safer. “I’ve always been a fast driver. I like speed. I used to ride motorcycles,” Ware says. “I’m also into archery. I can shoot right here in the backyard. It’s the same thing-it’s Zen. And the same with guns. The reason I don’t talk about it is because guns get a bad rap in America, but it’s not just bang, bang, bang, bang. There are a lot of subtle aspects to shooting that I find very spiritual. The Zen of shooting-that’s what I’m into.”
If only Ware were into boomerangs, he’d complete the sketch of a man motivated by motion in his life and music. In fact, he says, “I used to throw boomerangs all the time. For me, shooting, boomerang and archery are like moving meditations-and I’ve been meditating formally for 30 years. It gives me everything.”
Ware drove taxis for 14 years in New York City, where he relocated in 1973 after growing up in Scotch Plains and later attending Boston’s Berklee College of Music. “I have a lot of memories here,” he says of his hometown. “Scotch Plains is a place I’m glad to come back to. I can’t relate with the hustle-bustle of the city. I want stillness and quietness.”
Walking through Ware’s house is like tiptoeing through a temple. Rose petals, dried flowers and scented candles are strewn about the panel-walled home. The warmth of his kitchen, tidiness of his den and coziness of his couches accentuate his desire for order and comfort-even though he credits his wife, Setsuko, with the decorations, saying, “She can do whatever she wants with it.” But, Ware says, “This house is old. It needs remodeling. It needs to be gutted. I can’t stand when stuff gets old, dusted, rusted.”
Ware’s inclination to rethink the landscape of his house, like with his music, is central to his character. His 16 albums for Columbia, DIW, Silkheart, Homestead and AUM Fidelity exemplify his need for constant evolution.
“Every stride you make forward, there’s a wall you have to break down with a sledgehammer,” Ware says. “I would like to think that someone hears my music and says, ‘This is a new experience for me. It’s taking me somewhere I haven’t quite been before.”