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This three-CD set of three concerts offers a thrilling look back at different eras of this long-running group (16 years), and some amazingly compelling music. Tenor saxophonist DAVID S. WARE is joined, as always, by pianist MATTHEW SHIPP and bassist WILLIAM PARKER; the drum chair has been filled by a shifting procession of talents. For the 1998 concert in Chiasso, Switzerland that fills disc one and continues with another piece on each succeeding disc, the drummer is SUSIE IBARRA. Four of the pieces are from the contemporaneous Go See the World, including the most intense version of MARVIN HAMLISCH’s “The Way We Were” (made famous by BARBRA STREISAND) that anybody will ever hear, but as a special treat there’s a half-hour expansion of Ware’s 1992 modal masterpiece from flight of i, “Aquarian Sound,” and a look back two years to the group’s cover of SUN RA’s “The Stargazers” on the first Ware album Ibarra appeared on, Godspelized. A 2003 concert in Milan, Italy with the group’s current drummer, GUILLERMO E. BROWN, features the group’s powerful revision of the SONNY ROLLINS classic Freedom Suite, which certainly offers more freedom. The great HAMID DRAKE is a guest replacement at another Italian 2003 concert, in Terni, offering Ware fans a new drum perspective on tunes ranging as far back as “Elder’s Path” from Ware’s pianoless first album (here, Shipp expands the textures considerably), 1988’s Passage to Music. This gig also boasts some new Ware titles, “Unknown Mansion” and “Sentient Compassion.” And it’s reasonably priced for three discs.
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