"More than influencing the style of what I compose," Ware writes in the liner notes, "Duke Ellington shaped how I think about composing for and using an orchestra. The music recorded here are themes that came to me as I had a conversation with the spirit of Ellington during a composing dry spell. As I listened to Duke's music, these compositions flowed as vignettes in his spirit." Ware, a veteran of the saxophone sections of many notable large jazz ensembles, has often had his work compared to that of Ellington and other legendary bandleaders. "Imagine the '30s Basie band playing in a '60s post-hard bop manner," writes JazzTimes reviewer Kalamu ya Salaam. "Also imagine the soloists employing tone colors, mutes and idiosyncratic flourishes which were the hallmark of Ellington. You've got an idea of composer/conductor Jabbo Ware's orchestra." Cadence reviewer Jack Bower adds, The Me We & Them Orchestra "is, if nothing else, wide-ranging and eclectic with echoes of Ellington, Lunceford, Mingus, Basie, New Orleans street music and even Sun Ra and Rahsaan Roland Kirk resonating through its seemingly all-embracing repertoire."
Ware began his professional career as a versatile saxophonist/composer/arranger in 1962 with the Black Artist Group of St. Louis (whose members included Oliver Lake, Julius Hemphill and Hamiett Bluiett) and went on to serve in a wide range of ensembles led by legendary figures including Dollar Brand, Albert King, Sam Rivers, Charles Mingus and Archie Shepp, with the latter including him on two of his most respected Impulse! recordings, Attica Blues and Cry of My People. Encouraged by Bluiett, Ware moved to New York in 1970 where he studied improvisation and composition with George Coleman and joined Rivers' big band, the Collective Black Artists (CBA) Band, and Frank Foster and the Loud Minority among other groups. In 1973 he realized his dream of leading his own large ensemble when he formed The Me We & Them Orchestra, which he has continued to lead since, in addition to his countless collaborations with other musicians. Ware is also the Founder/Artistic Director of Y'All of New York, Inc., a 15 year-old 501(c)(3) charitable organization dedicated to advancing jazz traditions through the production of performances, recordings and educational programs throughout the greater New York City community and beyond. More information about Ware and his efforts is available at http://www.yallnewyork.org
James Jabbo Ware and The Me We & Them Orchestra + Strings & Horns features: James Jabbo Ware, composer/conductor; J.D. Parran, alto sax and clarinet; Paavo Carey, tenor sax and flute; Salim Washington, tenor sax; Patience Higgins, baritone sax and bass clarinet; Eddie Allen, trumpet; Cecil Bridgewater, trumpet; Chris Albert, trumpet; Clifton Anderson, trombone; Richard Harper, trombone; Bill Lowe, bass trombone and tuba; Marshall Sealy, French horn; Mark Taylor, French horn; Gwendolyn Laster, violin; Carolos Baptiste, violin; Crystal Garner, viola; Melanie Dyer, viola; Clarissa Howell, cello; Nioka Workman, cello; Leon Dorsey, double bass; David Moore, double bass; Hilton Ruiz, piano; Warren Smith, drums
Scott Menhinick, Improvised Communications