Ware, Wilbur (Bernard) (Chicago, 8 Sept 1932 - Philadelphia, 9 Sept 1979)


Double bass player


He was early associated with Roy Eldridge and Sonny Stitt in Milwaukee (1946). Later, as a member of the house band at the Flame Lounge in Chicago, he worked with Joe Williams (1953), and Junior Mance and Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson (both 1954). He also recorded with Johnny Griffin (1954) and played with Thelonious Monk. In June 1956 he joined Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers and moved to New York, where he became the house double bass player for Riverside. In this capacity he recorded with many important musicians and also led his own groups. He played with John Coltrane in Monk's quartet at the Five Spot (1957), and in Sonny Rollins's trio at the Village Vanguard. Illness forced Ware to return to Chicago in 1963, and he played infrequently until 1968 when he joined Archie Shepp's group. He performed and recorded sporadically with Shepp into the early 1970s, and also worked with Clifford Jordan, Blue Mitchell, Elvin Jones, and Sonny Rollins (all 1969), and Sun Ra (1973). Ware's heavy tone, percussive yet buoyant attack, and short notes were reminiscent of the styles of Wellman Braud and Walter Page, but his harmonic inventiveness, apparent for example on Blues for Tomorrow, was wholly modern. Unlike many of his contemporaries, who played legato solos, Ware developed his solos (such as that on Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise) rhythmically and motivically. In this way he anticipated the free-jazz style.


 John Curry


The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, Macmillan Reference Ltd 1988