Take Five: An Archival Gem by David S. Ware & New Sounds From Ethan Iverson, Marc Copland

Oct 14, 2019

Also: Dick Hyman and Ken Peplowski finesse the songs of Lerner & Loewe, and Tyshawn Sorey goes deep with Marilyn Crispell.

David S. Ware Quartet, “Crossing Samsara, Part 2”

It has been seven years since the death of David S. Ware, whose legacy as a saxophonist and bandleader, within the spirit-seeking avant-garde, burns almost as brightly as he did. Ware’s former label, AUM Fidelity, has smartly tended those fires with a series of posthumous archival releases — the latest of which is Théâtre Garonne, 2008, releasing on Nov. 8.

A concert recording made in Toulouse, France, it documents what was then a new band, and something of a departure. The acclaimed, long-running David S. Ware Quartet had featured pianist Matthew Shipp, bassist William Parker, and a succession of drummers; this subsequent edition retained Parker and drummer Warren Smith but swapped in a guitarist, Joe Morris. The result, first chronicled on a studio album called Shakti, was a leaner, often spikier sound.

Ware’s composition “Crossing Samsara” appears on that album as a loose, bobbing theme, with the musicians feeling each other out in real time. The same piece can be found on Théâtre Garonne, 2008, in a more episodic approach that sprawls nearly to a half-hour. The second part, which has its premiere here, is notable not only for Ware’s pugnacious unaccompanied improvisation, but also for the terrific melodic solo that Morris unfurls on guitar.

Dick Hyman & Ken Peplowski, “I Talk to the Trees”

How trusted a songbook interpreter is Dick Hyman? His new album Counterpoint Lerner & Loewe, a duo effort with clarinetist Ken Peplowski, was made at the request of the Frederick Loewe Foundation, which manages the composer’s copyrights. They knew that Hyman, an NEA Jazz Master, would bring deep insight to the project — and that at 92, he’s still a pianist of rare dexterity, sensitivity and poise.

Loewe and lyricist Alan Jay Lerner were the duo behind legendary Broadway successes like My Fair Lady and Brigadoon. “Not all of the songs we’ve recorded are part of the jazz lexicon,” Peplowski observes in the liner notes. “One of the issues with Lerner and Loewe songs is that they’re written very specifically for the shows.”

A case in point is “I Talk to the Trees,” from the musical Paint Your Wagon, which opened on Broadway in 1951, and was later covered by the likes of Robert Goulet. It appears on Chet Baker Plays the Best of Lerner & Loewe, but I know of few other jazz interpretations. Hyman and Peplowski turn it into a conversation piece; they may be talking to the trees, but they’re also clearly bantering with each other. They’re sure to do the same at Dizzy’s Club on Wednesday night.

Ethan Iverson Quartet with Tom Harrell, “Wee”

Common Practice, the new release from pianist Ethan Iverson, is a love letter to “the jazz tradition,” as it’s broadly understood. So this album — recorded at The Village Vanguard in 2017, by a quartet featuring veteran trumpeter Tom Harrell — includes a heavy quotient of 12-bar blues, and ballads associated with Billie Holiday. The track list includes two songbook standards with the word “sentimental” in the title.

And then there’s “Wee,” a bebop staple by Denzil Best (also known as “Allen’s Alley”). In this bassist Ben Street and drummer Eric McPherson initially set the tune in a Caribbean groove, before shifting into swing. Harrell’s solo rides both waves, Iverson’s adheres to a walking 4, and McPherson’s does a little of everything. The enthusiastic response at the end should be no surprise.

The Ethan Iverson Quartet performs on Tuesday at Regattabar in Cambridge, Mass.; on Wednesday at Jazz Standard in New York; and on Thursday at the Caplan Center in Philadelphia, as part of the October Revolution.

Marc Copland, Joey Baron, Drew Gress, “Day and Night”

Pianist Marc Copland, bassist Drew Gress and drummer Joey Baron have history together: they were the final rhythm section for guitarist John Abercrombie, and have also recorded under Copland’s name. Their new album, And I Love Her, due out on Oct. 25, confirms the intuitive ease of their rapport as a trio, on a program that ranges from the title track (a Beatles cover) to jazz standards to band originals.

“Day and Night,” by Copland, may sound familiar: this trio recorded it for his 2017 album Better By Far, featuring trumpeter Ralph Alessi. The new version is different mainly in the details: Copland sets a more laid-back tempo, and Gress’ bass solo warrants a special citation. Each member of the trio is in deep-focus mode, and it shows.

Tyshawn Sorey and Marilyn Crispell, “The Adornment of Time” (excerpt)

Speaking of deep-focus mode: The Adornment of Time is a mesmerizing new album by percussionist Tyshawn Sorey and pianist Marilyn Crispell. Recorded in concert at The Kitchen last year, it’s a gradually shapeshifting duo improvisation that Pi Recordings has chosen to format as one long, unbroken track. The grave, shimmering beauty of the music has already earned accolades in prominent places, including Pitchfork and The New York Review of Books.

This five-minute excerpt captures some of the feeling of the performance, especially its balance of delicate gestures and brooding suspense. But here’s an instance where a small taste will only get you so far. The Adornment of Time is an experiential creation, and for those of us who couldn’t be in the audience on that evening, the album is our chronicle. The only option is to devour it whole.