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David S. Ware/Apogee: Birth of a Being

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The late David S. Ware was a fully formed musician by the time he made his first recording as a leader, Birth of a Being, in 1977. He was already blowing gale-force winds through his tenor saxophone on that recording, and his ideas were every bit as forceful then as they were on his greatest albums recorded two decades later. Birth of a Being-made with pianist Cooper-Moore and drummer Marc Edwards, a trio they called Apogee-has been out of print for 30 years. AUM Fidelity’s Steven Joerg has corrected that wrong with an expanded, two-CD set that reissues the original Birth of a Being on disc one and adds five unreleased tracks, including a second version of Birth‘s best song, “Prayer.”

This is pulse-quickening music that never lets up. Ware picks up where John Coltrane left off, employing his spiritual approach and taking his force majeure to the next level. Cooper-Moore roughs up the piano with atonal phrases, and Edwards thrashes about, ignoring any sense of rhythm. “Prayer” has a bare structure-the chords lurk beneath the surface, as does some semblance of a melody-but it is quickly abandoned in favor of a sound sculpture made with Ware’s long, loud notes and signature squeals and squawks. “Thematic Womb,” with its machine-gun drumming, and the 25-minute, two-part A Primary Piece are brash, difficult listens. Only at the end of disc two is there a reprieve from chaos: Cooper-Moore’s performance of the spiritual “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around” on the ashimba, an 11-note wooden xylophone he designed; and a seven-minute, untitled, unaccompanied and unusually restrained solo by Ware.

Originally Published