David S. Ware: tenor saxophone
Matthew Shipp: piano
William Parker: bass
Guillermo E. Brown: drums
Renunciation presents the momentous final US performance by David S. Ware's revered Quartet. The entire performance – from the band introduction to full real-time applause is here – live at Vision Festival XI on June 18, 2006 at the Orensanz Art Center in New York City. Featuring three brand new compositions (the beauty ballad Ganesh Sound, the epic Renunciation Suite centerpiece, and the condensed encore), this concert and exquisite recording thereof shows the Quartet at yet another height of their powers. A magnificent performance by one of the greatest Jazz bands the world will ever know, and which was indeed their very last in the country which birthed them.
"The work of jazz titan David S. Ware seems to grow more refined, more ambitious, and more majestic as time moves on. Renunciation, featuring Ware's formidable quartet, is taken from a 2006 live date and contains seven compositions, each of which glows, morphs, startles, and seemingly reinvents the sonic stratosphere. Ware and company build structures that invite the listener in to witness dazzling displays of tension, engagement and release, and collective exploration in harmony and dissonance. The effects are entrancing."
"This taut set is as structurally refined as an architectural plan. Every note feels flawlessly placed, but the music urgently retains its wonder and majesty." –Philip Clark, The Wire
"Renunciation is the sound of a band who has been playing together for a very long time and who know and understand the value of everything, from circular rhythm and mantra-like compositional structures to the extended gift of free improvisation within their own definition of the time/space continuum. Tenor-man David S. Ware has released many different kinds of records in the past two decades. But those he's issued in the 21st century have been the most satisfying. His understanding of dynamic, force, color, and that rare thing that John Coltrane discovered and taught in finding a series of fluid modes that you defined through your horn to play in and improvise through to the next one are in evidence here throughout. Matthew Shipp's communication of theme, idea and bridge of ideas throughout the gig – most eloquently displayed on the Alice Coltrane-like "Ganesh Sound" – is majestic, dignified and purposeful. The centerpiece of this set is the three-part "Renunciation Suite." While much of what takes place within it is free-blowing, one can hear the wildly adventurous anchor that the rhythm section – bassist Parker and drummer Brown – provide, particularly in those knotty and wily exchanges between Ware's horn, Shipp's piano, and Parker's bass. The time is out of the box, it stretches and strafes between Ware's intervallic exploration and Shipp's codified, open investigations into dissonance as harmonic interplay. "Mikuro's Blues" is a modal blues that sways, swaggers and strolls before it finds its way back into the reprise of "Ganesh Sound." Shipp's climbing and shimmering that middle register as Ware finds places to blow along every chord cluster make the cymbal and tom work of Brown and Parker's thematic, as well as schematic, bass patterns carry more weight. It feels like an elongated introduction to a tune that's been taking place all along. The disc closes on "Saturnian" which does not reflect Sun Ra so much as it does a sky's ear view of bebop, the blues, and even hard bop. Yes, but it does so through the angles, twists, and kaleidoscopic twirls of Ware's sound-world. It stops, starts, tries on one aspect of the tradition, finishes with it, and breathes in another in its joyous three-minute-and-forty-three second sprint. For those who get Ware, this is another essential title in his discography. For those who don't yet but are open, this may be the one to put you over the line and into his camp. For those stalwart up-tights who simply refuse to try, there's certainly some freshly recorded slab of museum-piece jazz to keep you happy while you chew your cud in the pasture."
–Thom Jurek, All Music
Point of Departure / by Bill Shoemaker
"There hasn’t been an album with the finality of Renunciation since the Modern Jazz Quartet’s The Last Concert. Billed as their farewell US concert, the David S. Ware Quartet’s 2006 Vision Festival performance did not simply signal the end of an illustrious ensemble, but an episode, if not an era in jazz history. Despite being a label only a zealot could say out loud without wincing, one that widely missed the point of Ware’s music, “ecstatic jazz” is now embedded in the lexicon of the music at the Millennium, and the tenor saxophonist’s quartet with pianist Matthew Shipp, bassist William Parker, and a series of drummers culminating with Guillermo E. Brown is perhaps forever tagged as its super group. Subsequently, the album’s title was suggestive enough for Ware’s gatefold notes to begin with the disclaimer that he was not in any way renouncing the Quartet’s music. The title merely references the three-part suite that is the centerpiece of the set, which itself stems from Ware’s personal consciousness-raising regime.
Undoubtedly, this explanation will only reinforce the ultimate vibe of the album for some listeners, as will the shape and tone of the concert. “Ganesh Sound” opens and closes the set, a magisterial motive that’s more sung than chanted, initially a glowing ember that ignites into wild, blessed fire. Comparisons to Sonny Rollins, from who Ware received early tutelage, go only so far in describing Ware’s playing. But, it goes some way to explain why Ware doesn’t develop such stately materials in a manner that more closely mirrors the open-valve Coltrane-Sanders trajectory. Sure, there are knotty lines, bellowing long tones and vocalizations that are quite far from the Rollins lexicon; the connection to Rollins is something akin to a stream of consciousness that is more associative than absolutist. Shipp’s fundamental comping, a dry jack-hammering of the harmonic contour without embellished torrents, intensifies the material without diffusing it in a blanketing, blinding heat. Parker provides dark subliminal rumbling and Brown thumps and highlights in equal measure. They place Ware’s tempestuousness in bold relief.
“Renunciation Suite” is structurally intriguing. The first part is largely antiphonal, with Ware’s intense solo volleys returned with equal force by the trio of Shipp, Parker and Brown. Ware, Parker and Brown merge for a short roaring exchange, then Ware and Brown go heads up before Ware gives Brown the stage for a lengthy solo that combined the raw “Air” attack of Denis Charles and a regard for space and a utilization of the entire kit that recalls Anthony Williams. The second part is a casebook example of the blunt force created by Ware’s caterwauling, Shipp’s pugilistic comping and Parker and Brown’s massed rhythms; perhaps this is the object of Ware’s renunciation, as the concluding movement is a relatively introspective duo between Parker and Shipp, a mingling of achingly fervent arco phrases and limpid arpeggios knotted tightly. It’s surprisingly that Ware left this culminating work teetering on a precipice. To bring the set full circle, he dips deep into the band’s book for “Mikuro’s Blues,” which is about as close to a mid-tempo Coltranish vamp as the quartet ever ventured, before reprising “Ganesh Sound.” A full three minutes of frenzied crowd reaction ensues before the quartet’s encore, “Saturnian,” makes it clear that it’s over.
They say when one door closes, another opens. If that’s the case with David S. Ware, get prepared for something mighty."
From the liner notes by David S. Ware:
First of all I would like it to be clearly understood that I am in no way renouncing the work of the David S. Ware Quartet.
Now with the superficial put to rest, I can speak briefly about renunciation in the proper context. Renunciation meaning experiencing individuality as non-doer. In 1969 I had my first experience, while playing music, of what is called witnessing. Let me say first that this is not a meditative state. It is a spontaneous occurrence of what is called in the Vedic and Tantric teaching THE SELF, ATMA or even LORD SHIVA the SELF of all beings. It is beyond waking, dreaming, and deep sleep states. It is prior to the thought process and it is the foundation of self-realization, cosmic consciousness or enlightenment. In the many years since my first encounter, the practice of meditation and JAPA have made the ground more fertile for the experience to repeat itself in graceful moments. [...]