I love this set. I wish I'd been at the 2006 Festival to experience it first-hand, but this fine CD (beautifully recorded) is the next best thing. While the music harkens back to the intense spirituality expressed by Coltrane's mid-1960s group, it's distinctly different. These musicians and the compositions themselves yield something that seems fresh and original. David S. Ware, a masterful player with full-bodied, multi-colored sound on tenor sax, is clearly the standout. However, William Parker (one of the most exciting bass players in jazz), Mathew Shipp (piano), and Guillermo Brown (drums) each deliver top-notch performances. Although this music is certainly not for the faint of heart, it's really not that inaccessible.
Since this was part of a music festival, I expect that the recording captures the group's entire set (including encore)--which was apparently their final performance together. Clocking in at around 63 minutes, the CD leaves you well-satisfied, but not overly-satiated. And what a set!! One of the more impressive things about it is the combination of diversity and balance. The 3-part Renunciation Suite, the album's centerpiece, begins with an extended "call and response" pattern: several superb, lofty solo flights by Ware are answered by his 3 partners, driven along by Parker's propulsive base lines. Fascinating, exhilarating, beautiful stuff! The suite concludes with a colorful Shipp-Parker duet, on which piano and bass (here, played bowed) seem to encircle each other. Other highlights include a few bars (all too short) of sax and drums, leading into a fine, controlled solo by Brown. The other tracks, generally featuring the entire group throughout, are equally strong.
To borrow an often-used phrase: this disc rewards repeated listening. After several listens, I think I'll be enjoying it for many years to come (God willing).