David S. Ware: tenor saxophone
William Parker: bass
Muhammad Ali: drums
All compositions by David S. Ware, Cooper-Moore, William Parker, Muhammad Ali;
published by Gandharvasphere/Daswa (ASCAP)
Recorded on August 27, 2011 at Jazzfestival Saalfelden, Austria
Light paintings & design by Ming@409
* 5 Stars *
"Ware says that spirituality is what you are and music is what you do. Because there is a lot of experience in this band their music can be 100 percent intuitive, very refined, and spontaneous. I really felt sad when Ware came to an end with his legendary quartet with Matthew Shipp, William Parker and Guillermo E. Brown. But – my god – he has replaced it with another supergroup."
–Martin Schray, Free Jazz
"There is an unflagging energy captured across the three lengthy pieces. Such exuberance, combined with each player's outright mastery of the sonic forces at play within their various instruments, is why Planetary Unknown can be truly called a super-group."
–Bryon Hayes, Exclaim!
"It was a long road back for David S. Ware, but since having his kidney procedure a few years back the reedist has been playing as vibrantly and as powerfully as he ever has. With a stunning series of solo recordings and the cracking recent combo Planetary Unknown, the sax dynamo is deep into a productive period right now.
This live shot from last year consists of three long tracks filled with an incredibly tight, focused improvisatory vision from the leader. This is, quite frankly, the kind of long-form setting that can be dead dull without a fab group dynamic, clarity, and a sense of form. Planetary Unknown has these things in abundance, sizzling in the details and compelling over the duration."
–Jason Bivins, Dusted
"This is music of remarkable intensity, ebbing and flowing organically but always tautly conceived."
–Steve Holtje, eMusic
"A very exciting album and highly recommended. This group has come together as an organic unit that is creating in the moment and unbound by convention and expectation."
–Tim Niland, Music and More
* 5 Stars *
"This is free jazz with a strong connection to folk and gospel roots; witness the gorgeous blues Ware blows over William Parker’s theremin-like bowed bass. From the Mississippi delta to outer space, unknown is best indeed."
–Stewart Smith, The List
"Planetary Unknown kick some serious ass. This free improvisation quartet is animated by a bright collective soul."
–François Couture, Monsieur Délire
Live at Jazzfestival Saalfelden 2011 is one of two live recordings released in July 2012 as part of AUM Fidelity’s 15th anniversary. It documents the European debut of saxophonist David S. Ware’s free jazz supergroup Planetary Unknown, a quartet of esteemed elder statesmen and master musicians whose experience creating influential spontaneous music spans the past 45 years.
The critically acclaimed ensemble was celebrating the release of its self-titled June 2011 debut, which reviewers called “gravity-defying” (Marcus O’Dair, Jazzwise), “breathtaking...staggering...mesmerizing” (Marc Medwin, The New York City Jazz Record), “a monumental meeting of the minds” (Ron Hart, JamBands.com), “the rare all-star session that’s more than than the sum of its parts” (Jeff Jackson, Jazziz) and “a tour de force of free improvisation from four masters of the form” (Troy Collins, AllAboutJazz.com).
Heard here in its entirety, the group’s August 27th set at Austria’s Jazzfestival Saalfelden, a renowned showcase for prominent creative improvisers from around the world for more than 30 years, features three widely ranging extended improvisations. The resulting release is partly funded and made possible by the support of Zentrum Zeitgenössischer Musik and the 32nd International Jazzfestival Saalfelden.©
Collectively, David S. Ware, Cooper-Moore, William Parker and Muhammad Ali have more than 150 years of professional experience and a history that includes indispensable contributions to many of jazz and improvised music’s seminal ensembles and recordings.
In addition to its awe-inspiring assemblage of talent, Planetary Unknown is also notable for reuniting Ware and Cooper-Moore (né Gene Ashton) for the first time since their formative collaborations in the early 1970’s and returning the pioneering Ali (Albert Ayler, Alan Shorter and Frank Wright) to the forefront of improvised music after nearly 30 years away from the recording studio.
“Each member of the group has spent decades developing a signature on his instrument and investigating all manner of folk and art music, and that depth of knowledge is clear on the developmental, shape-shifting nature of each piece,” writes the BBC’s Kevin Le Gendre. “There is something compelling about the strength of character of the individuals at the beating heart of this supergroup.”
In his review of Planetary Unknown, Culture Catch’s Steve Holtje noted, “there is never any disjointedness or hesitation; these veterans organize their thoughts organically, instantly composing at speeds faster than thought. It’s an approach that carries great risks, but with players such as these, even greater rewards, and everything works to perfection throughout this album.”
This was the quartet’s second live performance following its world premiere at Vision Festival 16 in New York on June 10th, 2011. The New York City Jazz Record ’s John Sharpe called that concert “a towering performance of power and strength.” Downtown Music Gallery ’s Bruce Lee Gallanter added, “Explosive sparks erupted time and again as this quartet took off for parts unknown. This was a cosmic and triumphant set, giving us hope for things to come.”
“One of the greatest saxophonists free jazz has ever seen, Ware could conjure a hurricane with his monstrous sound and epic solos,” writes the Boston Globe’s Steve Greenlee, who goes on to call Planetary Unknown “a career highlight.”
Planetary Unknown traveled to Austria for their European concert debut at the highly esteemed Jazzfestival Saalfelden in August 2011. That concert, in its three widely ranging sections, is presented here in its majestic entirety.