Ivo Perelman and Matthew Shipp – The Art Of The Duet, Volume One (2013)

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It was only about a year ago when we last apprised a new album by the restless improvisational saxophonist from Sao Paulo, Ivo Perelman. Since that time, Perelman had put out another three albums, all trio records. The Gift, The Clairvoyant and Living Jelly appeared later in 2012, the former a meeting of Perelman with Joe Morris and Gerald Cleaver, and the latter two, Perlman with different combinations of Matthew Shipp’s own trio. And in early April, 2013, Perelman will unveil yet another trio of new albums.

Perhaps it’s high time we’ve checked on him again.

It’s clear that Ivo Perelman is an out-jazz music makin’ machine, and lately he’s been scratching that itch to make music even more than normal. It’s his modus operandi to collaborate with only the best and brightest figures in improvised music, and these latest improvisational sessions invariably include members of Shipp’s trio again as well as Cleaver and William Parker. But of this latest batch, the one that caught my attention first were his improvised duets with Shipp.

The Art Of The Duet, Volume One, as this encounter is titled, brought me back to a duet record Shipp did with Darius Jones called Cosmic Lieder, one that where the deeper I dug into to it, the more I appreciated the musical genius of both and their ability to create on the spot as each was processing what the other just played. The one-on-one setting meant that neither was leading nor accompanying, but co-creating, which in that way presents a unique set of challenges. They passed the test with flying colors, so it was going to be interesting to hear how Shipp adjusts to doing the same with Perelman.

Shipp was a superb listener and showed impeccable instincts when inventing on the spot with Jones, and so he does for Perelman. The Art Of The Duet, Volume One is thirteen pieces selected out of forty performed with zero forethought running at bite sized lengths. Reduced down to one or two ideas at a time, these vignettes are easy to digest. Visceral not ethereal, they’re no bad notes, even when accounting for the maxim that there are no such things as bad notes in out-jazz.

Perelman can alternately sound sweet and harsh but is entirely himself in both instances. Shipp is a logical extension of Monk going further into the avant garde (echoes of Thelonius can be most clearly heard on “Duet #09”), a refreshing alternative to the legions of free jazz pianists aping Cecil Taylor. Together, you have two guys who are very responsive to each other; thoughts and ideas never sound forced as they patiently let them come by naturally, and ending each performance before they begin to lose their freshness.

Typically these improvised pieces find footing when Shipp sets the table, Perelman dishes out the courses and both adjust around each other accordingly. “Duet #01,” for example, finds Shipp setting the rhythmic pattern in a staccato manner, as Perelman expresses himself mostly in legato, but eventually comes around and fills in the gaps between the notes left behind by Shipp who becomes more strident to match the saxophonist’s energy. “Duet #04” is another example of the close meshing between them: Shipp sets a slow pace but Perelman ratchets it up with chirpy, high flutters. Soon, both are scurrying through notes together and when Perlman chops up his notes, Shipp quickly responds in kind.

One of Perelman’s trademarks is his reaching at both the extreme ends of his horn, and that wide range is explored on “Duet #02,” “Duet #05” and “Duet” #12.” Other times, he plays with a heavy dose of sentiment which is noticeable on improvisations such as “Duet” #03″ and “Duet #07.” Though the songs take on a very fluid, nearly shapeless form, the two will occasionally stumble into definable figures, such as the ones that constitute “Duet #11.”

Ending with a thoughtfully constructed Shipp solo piano piece, The Art Of The Duet, Volume One is an album with a title that should only be applied to a get-together of those capable of applying art at the highest level. You would expect no less than that from artists the caliber of Ivo Perelman and Matthew Shipp, and those expectations are easily met.

The Art Of The Duet, Volume One is due out April 3, by Leo Records.

Purchase The Art Of The Duet, Volume One here.

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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 [email protected] .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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