Ivo Perelman/Joe Morris/Gerald Cleaver – Family Ties (2012)

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Photo: Peter Gannushkin

Ivo Perelman is currently on a creative spree, and this latest frenzy is comparable to the 1996-2000 period when he tore off 20 albums. It got instigated by the creation this saxophonist’s latest combo, a dream line-up made up of Joe Morris (double-bass), Gerald Cleaver (drums) and Matthew Shipp (piano). With these guys, Perelman and his new cohorts quickly developed a single mindset captured on last year’s “Best of 2011” entry The Hour Of The Star. His next album Family Ties continues with the same personnel, but without Shipp. However, Perelman already has in the can an album one-on-one with Shipp and another one with Cleaver. Oh, and then there’s also other trio recordings he’s recently done without the drums and without the bass.

So it’s clear that Perelman is a deconstructionist, but one who takes the concept further: he not only takes apart songs, he takes apart his quartet. As summarized by Perelman, he is “focusing on the relationship with each of them, in these sub-groups of the full quintet.” The piano-less concept behind Family Ties began on that The Hour Of The Star album, where Shipp sat out for one track. Here with the combo stripped down to sax/bass/drums, everything opens up even more.

Perelman cites Albert Ayler as one of his main influences, and with Morris and Cleaver, he has found his own spiritual unity. Through six, loosely constructed improvisations, Perelman sets the parameters wide and everyone exploits this freedom. On the magnum twenty-five minute track “Love,” he engages in a delicate dance with Morris, as Morris in turn syncs up with Cleaver. Perelman is all the while pouring out real melodies straight from his head, discarding one idea to move on to another. On “The Imitation Of The Rose,” (YouTube below) the leader feeds off the rumbling little eruptions firing below. For “Family Ties,” the rhythm section is operating with more nuance: as Perelman projects manic high notes Cleaver is using his tom-toms almost as a bass instrument, delivering pulse-like beats with rich tonality like a Warren Smith.

Subdividing his original quartet even further to a duet, “Preciousness” is a conversation between Perelman and Morris’ bowed bass. Perelman stays roughly within the same octave range as Morris, creating a congruous sound when they play together. The rollicking “Mystery In Sao Christovao” is where Perelman shows off the greatest range of his abilities, freely going across pitches, with squonking, trills and wide vibratos. The album closes with an avant-blues number called “The Buffalo,” which demonstrates that Perelman might have moved from mainstream to free jazz, but still informs his playing with the fundamentals he learned early on in his career.

It might be hard to believe that “less is more” when subtracting a musician of Matthew Shipp’s caliber, but it merely gives musicians of Joe Morris and Gerald Cleaver’s caliber the opportunity to step forward and fill in the space along with Perelman. So there’s no need to worry; they got this.

Family Ties will go on sale on February 21, brought to you by Leo Records.

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S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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