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The David S. Ware Quartets: Live in the World

Until now saxophonist David S. Ware had never released a live album. Perhaps to make up for lost time, he’s made this first one big. Maybe too big. On this bloviated three-CD collection Ware is joined by the usual suspects-bassist William Parker and pianist Matthew Shipp-plus a trifecta of drummers: Susie Ibarra, Hamid Drake and Guillermo E. Brown. As you’d expect from such an enormous project, the results are mixed.

Like every Ware album, Live has transcendent moments; it also has a few cringe-inducing ones. And sometimes the two come backto-back. Take the group’s interpretation of that ’70s kitsch classic “The Way We Were”-please. The track begins well, as Ware plays unaccompanied for eight minutes, doing his expressionist-with-monster-chops thing, rendering the tune all but indistinguishable. Toward the end of his solo, however, the melody rears its maudlin head, and Shipp milks it for all the schmaltz it’s worth. His take is not amusingly ironic or deeply felt, just hotel-piano-bar tacky. He goes “out” on it in fairly short order, but the damage is done.

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