Remembering David S. Ware, 1949-2012

by E. "Doc" Smith on October 19, 2012

I once had the privilege of working with the great saxophonist David S. Ware back in 2000, when he came to Virginia’s State Theater for a jazz festival, and touring to support his latest album on Columbia Records, “Surrendered”. With his brightly colored clothes flowing about him, Ware launched into a sonic performance that I will never forget. Last night, at the age of 62 . Ware, a leading free jazz player during the last 20 years, passed away. A statement from Patricia Parker, wife of Ware’s long-time collaborator bassist William Parker, was shared on the’s bulletin board: “Tonight, a giant has fallen. David S. Ware, the great saxophonist, died tonight, October 18, 2012. What an incredible loss! What a great musician and spirit! His tremendous sound, his spirit, his music, is irreplaceable… Music holds us… When there is more information, we will let you know…”

The Ottawa Citizen’s Peter Hum wrote, “Ware was 62. When he was 60, after nearly a decade of dialysis treatment, Ware underwent a kidney transplant. Ware’s Wikipedia entry states that the operation took place after a kidney was donated in response to an email message sent out to nearly 1,000 of his fans. Aum Fidelity recently sent out this update on Ware’s health, stating that he was”physically not doing well at all, though his spirit is in a very positive place.” The update solicited cards and emails of support from Ware’s fans to be shared with him….”

“In the 1990s, Ware formed a celebrated quartet that included pianist Matthew Shipp and Parker, as well as drummers such as Susie Ibarra…. At one point Ware was signed to Columbia Records, thanks to the advocacy of Branford Marsalis. Ware released more than 25 records under his own name, most of which were on small labels such as DIW and Thirsty Ear. Earlier, as a sideman, he recorded with pianist Cecil Taylor and drummer Andrew Cyrille.

Ware was also the subject of several short films. A 1994 Dutch documentary called In Motion concentrated on the fact Ware drove a cab for many years in New York. “The film makes the influence of the speeding traffic on Ware’s music tangible,” states one synopsis. More recently the David Lynch Foundation released the film David S. Ware: A World of Sound.” You can watch the 14 minute documentary here… Here too, is recent concert footage of Ware and his quartet, live in Vilnius.

We will miss you my man…

Filed under: Arts & Entertainment