Label/Year: Leo Records, 2017
Lineup - Ivo Perelman: saxophone; Matthew Shipp: piano; William Parker: bass; Michael Bisio: bass; Whit Dickey: drums; Bobby Kapp: drums; Andrew Cyrille: drums.
I don’t know any musician as much prolific as the Brazilian saxophonist Ivo Perelman. In the course of the last three years, he has released 24 albums with formations that keep changing according to a well-defined set of habitual collaborators. Namely pianists Matthew Shipp and Karl Berger, bassists William Parker and Michael Bisio, guitarist/bassist Joe Morris, violist Mat Maneri, and drummers Whit Dickey and Gerald Cleaver. Among them, one may say that Shipp, a top-notch avant-garde pianist of limitless ambidexterity, is his musical soulmate, and nothing better to celebrate that kinship than seven volumes of The Art of Perelman-Shipp.
Not all the musicians cited above contributed to the sessions, which were recorded between August 2015 and November 2016, but the duo added two drummers whose presences are not so recurrent: the heavyweight Andrew Cyrille and the undisclosed Bobby Kapp.
Each volume got the name of a moon of Saturn except for the sixth, a pure Perelman-Shipp duet, which was identified as the planet Saturn itself, the core in which everything comes into being, develops, and returns.
On Volume 1: Titan, the duo invites the sturdy bassist William Parker to join their creative arena, and creativity is something he doesn’t lack. The trio starts by walking on flat ground with Perelman almost whispering hushed murmurs, but after a short period, there’s a deflection into rugged territories, where his saxophone timbre switches from bright to dark. Both Shipp and Parker follow him by equally plunging into a mystery, hardening the ecstatic axis while stirring dynamics around it.
I found Tarvos, the second volume, slightly more pugnacious than the first. You may think of David S.Ware’s prayers interweaving with Albert Ayler’s eventful strolls, ending in purgative agitation and overwhelming fire. However, on “Part 6”, the introspection takes over, and I was able to spot a few scrupulous melodies delineated with lots of motifs and outcries encircling them.
Volume 3: Pandora, featuring a quartet with William Parker and Whit Dickey, has a strange appeal and exhibits impertinent postures in cleaner environments. As usual, the band plays with the mutability of tones, timbres, and moods, but in a more controlled, lyrical way. Shipp’s influences of classical music are quite noticeable here as he transforms creative ideas into wholehearted dances.
Michael Bisio, who draws a superb round sound from his bass, plays on the next two volumes Hyperion and Rhea. The latter also features Dickey in the drummer’s chair, and his percussive chops inject some more robustness. “Part 6” was particularly entrancing with inspired blows by Perelman, sometimes carrying some folk in the melody, and striking sonic gusts that made my feet come out of the ground. The adventures are quite elliptical, full of sweeps, contortions, and stretches.
The literal art of the duo can be enjoyed on Volume 6: Saturn, which comprises ten short pieces. “Part 9” is a highlight that brings beseeching melodic contours and highly percussive piano.
The great Andrew Cyrille joins for Volume 7: Dione, soloing upfront in the opening tune. The hosts adhere to the visitor’s suggestions in a triumphant point of entry and embrace an agitated asymmetry that drifts volubility from then on. The trio is on the same page and there are plenty of ravishing moments to be discovered.
Every different lineup offers different possibilities within the same line of approach and the seven volumes form a valid and meritorious body of work. My advice is: for a better absorption, don't listen to the seven volumes in a row. Doing so, you'll dig more precious details in the cathartic creativity of Perelman-Shipp.
03 (Vol 1) – Part 3 ► 09 (Vol 6) – Part 9 ► 01 (Vol 7) - Part 1