David S. Ware: tenor saxophone
Matthew Shipp: piano
William Parker: bass
Guillermo E. Brown: drums
In 2002, David S. Ware and his Quartet brought Sonny Rollins' protest jazz masterpiece into the new century, exquisitely. The July 13 session for this album also proved to be the final time that the DSWQ – one of the greatest bands in the history of jazz – went into the studio.
Rollins' original 1958 recording (with Oscar Pettiford and Max Roach), is a 19 minute tour de force of four interconnected themes, and one of the master's most acclaimed pieces. As arranged by Ware, and performed by his Quartet, the composition is brought with exceptional grace full into the present day – a lush and utterly committed interpretation, spanning 40 minutes and following David S. Ware's intensive and intuitive direction.
"For sheer ferocity of expression, fearlessness of conception and brilliance of delivery, the Ware version is hard to beat, the tenor saxophonist using Rollins' themes as springboards for thunderous saxophone rhetoric. His solos are so magnificent in their sweep, so propulsive in rhythmic drive and so linear in melodic development that they prove impossible to resist. With the formidable Matthew Shipp adding his all-over-the-keyboard virtuosity to a work originally recorded without piano, it's clear that this band has re-conceived the original from top to bottom. Guillermo E. Brown's impressionistic drums and William Parker's tonally resplendent bass help this quartet to sound much larger and mightier than the sum of its parts. In the end, this "Freedom Suite" is so broad in scope and vast in expressive range that it stands as a fitting response to Rollins' masterwork." –Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune & Los Angeles Times
"From the very first movement, Ware immediately hits a mammoth stride, taking off for other planes of there after a minimal thematic statement but never leaving the melody too far behind. The second movement establishes an astonishing swing on the strength of William Parker's interpolation of Oscar Pettiford's funky ostinato, only to be flipped on its ear for a resplendent single-chord coda that Ware uses to reel in the loose ends of the past fifty years' tenor saxophone vocabulary. Movement three offers a spacious departure from the original's melodic figures, allowing Ware to let loose once again as he fills the relaxed atmosphere with volumes of idyllic testament. The fourth and final movement threads Parker and Brown's pulse-swing perfection through to an utterly brilliant blues-drenched conclusion, with Shipp negotiating the precise midpoint between Cecil Taylor and Chucho Valdes to ease the transition along.
"Upon realizing that this envisioning of "Freedom Suite" is twice as long as the original, some potential listeners may assume that the extra padding comes as a result of extensive blowing between the piece's melodic parameters. However, the opposite couldn't be truer – Ware has endowed the suite with a beauty of epic proportions that, while it does inject a great degree of musical freedom into Rollins' conceptual liberation, never relies on aimless meandering to achieve that goal. In fact, the suite's four movements, added piano and classic sense of interconnectedness recall "A Love Supreme" as much as Rollins' original – to put it plainly, jazz just doesn't get much better than this." –Scott Hreha, One Final Note
"Ware’s Freedom Suite occupies your mind for days to come. The record stands as a true testament to the fact that our most musical of musics indeed still thrives when applied by those who truly understand its structure, intent, history, and most of all, possibilities." –Ben Schulman, Action Man Magazine
"This is a perfect opportunity to show the link between me and Sonny," explained Ware in an interview at the time of its original release, "an opportune time to show how one generation is built upon another and how the relationships work in the whole stream of music that's called jazz."
1. Freedom Suite - Movement 1 - 07:05
2. Freedom Suite - Movement 2 - 11:37
3. Freedom Suite - Movement 3 - 08:12
4. Freedom Suite - Movement 4 - 12:30
'The Freedom Suite' composed by Sonny Rollins;
published by Orpheum Music (BMI)
Arrangement & additional composition by David S. Ware
Produced by David S. Ware and Steven Joerg
Recorded by Jim Anderson on July 13, 2002
at Systems Two Studio, Brooklyn
Mastered by Alan Silverman at Arf! Digital, NYC
Design by Ming@409 from photographs by Edvard Vlanders