David S. Ware

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David S. Ware
David s ware.jpg
David S. Ware
Background information
Birth nameDavid Spencer Ware
Born(1949-11-07)November 7, 1949
Plainfield, New Jersey, U.S.
Died(2012-10-18)October 18, 2012 (aged 62)
New Brunswick, New Jersey, U.S.
Genres Jazz, free jazz, avant-garde jazz
Occupation(s)Musician, composer, bandleader
Labels Silkheart, DIW, Homestead, AUM Fidelity, Columbia, Thirsty Ear
Associated acts Cecil Taylor, Andrew Cyrille, William Parker, Matthew Shipp, Cooper-Moore, Marc Edwards, Whit Dickey, Susie Ibarra, Muhammad Ali
Website davidsware.com

David Spencer Ware (November 7, 1949 – October 18, 2012) [1] [2] was an American jazz saxophonist, [3] composer, and bandleader.



Ware was born in Plainfield, New Jersey, grew up in Scotch Plains, New Jersey, graduated from Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School, and briefly attended the Berklee College of Music. He moved to NYC in 1973, where he participated in the loft jazz scene, and later worked as a cab driver for 14 years in order to focus on his own group concept. [4] In the early 1980s, he returned to Scotch Plains with his wife Setsuko S. Ware.

Ware's debut album as a leader was recorded in 1977 – together with pianist Gene Ashton (aka Cooper-Moore) and drummer Marc Edwards – and released by HatHut in 1979. He performed and recorded with the groups of pianist Cecil Taylor and drummer Andrew Cyrille in the mid-late 1970s. He formed his own quartet in 1989. The group was originally composed of Ware, pianist Matthew Shipp, bassist William Parker, and drummer Marc Edwards. While Shipp and Parker were members for the group's entire existence, the drum chair was later occupied by Whit Dickey, Susie Ibarra, and Guillermo E. Brown.

The David S. Ware Quartet performed across the US and Europe and released a series of increasingly acclaimed albums spanning the 1990s on the independent labels Silkheart, DIW, Homestead, and AUM Fidelity. Saxophonist Branford Marsalis signed Ware to Columbia Records in 1998 for a three-album contract. [5] In 2001, jazz critic Gary Giddins described Ware's quartet as "the best small band in jazz today". [5] In 2007, after 17 years together, the quartet was disbanded following the release of the album Renunciation and a final European tour that spring. Ware proceeded to perform concerts and record albums with a series of new group configurations: a new quartet featuring guitarist Joe Morris, William Parker, and drummer Warren Smith; a special trio celebrating his 50th year of playing saxophone (in 2009) with Parker and Smith; a 2-volume series of solo saxophone performances; and finally with his last quartet, Planetary Unknown, featuring Cooper-Moore, Parker, and drummer Muhammad Ali. His final concert performance was with Planetary Unknown on August 27, 2011, at Jazzfestival Saalfelden in Austria. The recording of that concert was released in July 2012 on AUM Fidelity.

Ware was first diagnosed with kidney failure in 1999, and, following nearly a decade of undiminished creative activity while on a strict regimen of peritoneal dialysis, Ware underwent a critically necessary and successful kidney transplantation in May 2009. [6] The organ donor was Floridian Laura Mehr, who responded to an urgent email message sent out to nearly 1,000 of Ware's fans. [7] He returned to the stage that October, and continued to perform and record highly acclaimed work for the next two years, even as he endured serious complications brought on by required immunosuppressant medication. [8] He finally succumbed to an aggressive blood infection [9] and died on October 18, 2012, at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey, age 62. [10]


As leader

As sideman

With Ahmed Abdullah

With Abdul Hannan / The Third World

With Andrew Cyrille & Maono

With DJ Wally

With Cecil Taylor Unit

With Beaver Harris

With Ahmed Abdullah

With Cooper-Moore

With William Parker

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<i>Great Bliss, Vol. 1</i> 1991 studio album by David S. Ware

Great Bliss, Vol. 1 is an album by American jazz saxophonist David S. Ware recorded in 1990 and released on the Swedish Silkheart label. Great Bliss was conceived as a two-installment project and marks the debut of the David S. Ware Quartet, one of the most highly acclaimed musical groups of the decade.

<i>Third Ear Recitation</i> 1993 studio album by David S. Ware

Third Ear Recitation is an album by American jazz saxophonist David S. Ware recorded in 1992 and released on the Japanese DIW label. This is the first recording by the David S. Ware Quartet with Whit Dickey replacing former drummer Marc Edwards.

<i>Oblations and Blessings</i> 1996 studio album by David S. Ware

Oblations and Blessings is an album by American jazz saxophonist David S. Ware recorded in 1995 and released on the Swedish Silkheart label. It features the David S. Ware Quartet with pianist Matthew Shipp, bassist William Parker and drummer Whit Dickey playing all original Ware compositions.

<i>Shakti</i> (David S. Ware album) 2009 studio album by David S. Ware

Shakti is an album by saxophonist David S. Ware which was recorded in 2008 and released on the AUM Fidelity label. This was the first album Ware recorded after the breakup of the quartet that had been his main band for over 20 years.

<i>Planetary Unknown</i> 2011 studio album by David S. Ware

Planetary Unknown is an album by saxophonist David S. Ware which was recorded in 2010 and released on the AUM Fidelity label.

<i>Live at Jazzfestival Saalfelden 2011</i> 2012 live album by David S. Ware

Live at Jazzfestival Saalfelden 2011 is an album by American jazz saxophonist David S. Ware released on the AUM Fidelity label. It documents the second live performance by Ware's band Planetary Unknown following its world premiere at Vision Festival 16 in New York.


  1. Ratliff, Ben (October 19, 2012). "David S. Ware, Adventurous Saxophonist, Dies at 62". Nytimes.com.
  2. "David S. Ware | Biography & History". AllMusic . Retrieved December 24, 2019.
  3. Ware, David S. "David S. Ware", JazzTimes , June 2003. "Ware drove taxis for 14 years in New York City, where he relocated in 1973 after growing up in Scotch Plains and later attending Boston's Berklee College of Music."
  4. 1 2 Giddins, Gary (2001). ""Go Tell It on the Mountain: David Ware's Quartet Demands Overstatement"". Archived from the original on July 4, 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-04.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link) 31 July 2001, URL accessed 30 April 2012.
  5. "David S. Ware's health". Aumfidelity.com. Retrieved December 24, 2019.
  6. La Gorce, Tammy. "A Gift of Life and Music: Musician David S. Ware, of Scotch Plains, recovered from a kidney transplant...with a little help from his fans.", New Jersey Monthly , December 14, 2009. Accessed August 9, 2011. "David S. Ware, 60, a tenor saxophonist from Scotch Plains, got more than support. He got a new kidney.... Having regained his health, Ware, a graduate of Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School, is planning to release an experimental jazz album this spring."
  7. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-07-06. Retrieved 2012-10-24.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. "David S. Ware". Aumfidelity.com. Retrieved December 24, 2019.
  9. "RIP David S. Ware". Ottawa Citizen. 2012-10-18. Archived from the original on 2012-10-22. Retrieved 2012-10-18.