Ivo Perelman - Strings1 + Strings2

Label: Leo Records, 2018

Personnel - Ivo Perelman: tenor saxophone; Mat Maneri: viola; Mark Feldman: violin (Strings1); Jason Hwang: violin (Strings1); Ned Rothenberg: bass clarinet (Strings2); Hank Roberts: cello (Strings2).


Ivo Perelman’s transformation here has nothing to do with the art of improvisation, which he continues to dominate effortlessly, but rather with the new-found sense of compelling narrative expressed entirely in the company of strings on Strings1, and side-by-side either with bass clarinet or cello (and sometimes both) on Strings2. As has been common in his groups, the music is made in the spur of the moment, and the musicians have no preconditions whenever they set foot in the studio.

Following a variety of modern classical ephemera, the first track on Strings1 (all the tracks are untitled) dances unorthodoxly throughout, presenting collective cries and finishing with saxophone punctuations in the form of altissimo squeals and occasional popping sounds over the solid high-pitched curtain created by violist Mat Maneri, a longtime associate, and violinists Mark Feldman and Jason Kao Hwang, a new addition and a re-encounter, respectively.

At some point, “Track 4” introduces some Eastern fragrances in its pointillism, also conveying a breezy insouciance in Perelman’s rambles, which come garnished with sporadic air notes and reiterated phrases. Open to textural flexibility, the quartet keeps defining surfaces and changing densities in a constant fluctuation of ideas and sounds. “Track 6” captures Perelman plunging into a sea of violins with the contrasting timbre of his instrument, whereas the energized “Track 8” seems to use ritualistic ways to emulate capoeira music.

Strings2 is naturally darker in tone due to the fortunate addition of bass clarinetist Ned Rothenberg on four tracks and cellist Hank Roberts on six. The drone-imbued “Track1” feels circumspect in nature in opposition to the brazen “Track2”, where agitated activity leads to serious turbulence. The recording lives from contrasting timbres, becoming candidly atmospheric through wails and laments, and sometimes resolutely rambunctious with incisive lines bursting in color.

To me, the great surprise arrived when Perelman and Rothenberg set up a spontaneous groove on “Track4”, later diluted in the swiftness of Maneri’s circular movements. This particular moment, together with the capoeira incursion (deliberate or not) proved that the concept of groove could be further explored without compromising Perelman’s unguarded passion for timbre, texture, and free improvisation. A possible next step?

Grade  B+

Grade B+

Favorite Tracks:
Strings1 - Tracks 1, 4, 8
Strings2 - Tracks 1, 2, 4

Ivo Perelman / Matthew Shipp - Oneness

Label: Leo Records, 2018

Personnel: Ivo Perelman: tenor saxophone; Matthew Shipp: piano.


The telepathic articulation between tenor saxophonist Ivo Perelman and pianist Matthew Shipp, two free spirits in the art of music-making, is quite obvious and grows stronger on Oneness, a triple album with 33 improvised tracks, which all together, offer more than two hours of searching music. In this sonic adventure, the interactions never feel a debate, but rather a well-reasoned conversation. The nature of the pieces often become visual, stimulating our imagination for mysterious interplanetary routes or energizing earthy expressions defined by an organic blend of avant-garde jazz, art-folk elements, and contemporary classical incursions.

The duo always finds new ways to surprise, reinventing lines and textures through spontaneous ideas. They not only have a staggering control of their instruments but also find an easy comfort with each other's craft and forms of expression.

The first tune of CD1 suggests an odd tango-ish mood until falling into a free ramble, in which Perelman’s sinuous moves exalted by deep-toned notes with a rich vibrato. In a variety of atmospheres along the way, the cohesion of the duo is felt through free-form approaches and effortless suppression of time while shaping, sometimes angular, sometimes curved geometric figures with an inner pulse of creativity. The timbral range is also a crucial factor in their aesthetic reality, with Shipp’s off-center chordal adventurism, always intricate and stunning, becoming a great vehicle for Perelman’s elliptical threads and asymmetrical zigzags. Ambiguity is also brought into their subliminal interplay, no matter which direction they decide to take - it may be tranquil, lyric and dreamlike but also tense, restless and provocative.

The extemporizations sometimes hinge on an initial idea or just flow briskly with refractory intervallic leaps and opportune chromaticism. No hesitation. No redundancy. No preconception. Pure exploration and inspiration.

The album reflects what these longtime collaborators and wonderful musicians can do. One saxophone, one piano, and oneness of mind and purpose are everything they need.

       Grade  A-

       Grade A-

Favorite Tracks:
01 (CD1) - Track 1 ► 11 (CD1) - Track 11 ►  06 (CD2) - Track 6

Ivo Perelman - The Art of Perelman-Shipp

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.

        Grade  B+

        Grade B+

Favorite Tracks:
03 (Vol 1) – Part 3 ► 09 (Vol 6)  – Part 9 ► 01 (Vol 7) - Part 1