When Ivo Perelman convenes with the Matthew Shipp Trio, good stuff happens. The same goes when Perelman gets together with Shipp and the king of downtown NYC bassists, William Parker. Book of Sound (March 25, 2014, Leo Records) is one of the trio of CD’s Perelman is set to release on the same day, each combining the tenor saxophone master with a rotating cast of masters of other instruments.
Perelman is an obscenely productive musician so it might be hard to find if this meeting had been done before, and indeed it has. But you’d have to go all the way back to 1996’s Cama Da Terra to find the prior time the three recorded together exclusively of anyone else (Gerald Cleaver made it a quartet for last year’s Serendipity). As it is will all Perelman sessions these days, these cats went into the studio with no sheet music and left with a whole album of complete, unedited, undubbed performances. Perelman put the pieces in a certain order after the fact in such a way that it resembles a multi-movement suite, but an array of connected organisms might be a better description.
Like real organisms, these songs breathe and goes through stages. “Damnant Quod Non Intelligent” spends time travelling along without a root for most of the way, although Parker’s got the thing firmly anchored. Perelman and Shipp soon connect, reacting to each other’s gestures. Eventually, Shipp settles on a chord and the other two dig deeply into it.
The songs distinguish themselves from another by mood more than anything else. “De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum,” for instance, is one of those darker, somber moods, and Perelman takes that opportunity to show his fragile side. Shipp’s accompaniment spins pretty harmonic thoughts that sometimes turn gloomy, and toward the end, Parker is emitting pulses sensitively to also bolster Perelman.
The vigorous side comes out on “Adsummum,” where Shipp lets loose an almost unbroken succession of notes which Perelman contrasts by playing sharply stated notes with space in between. Soon, both are rolling up notes and beating down chords together; Parker stays relaxed during the chase, effortlessly anticipating what’s coming next and finding the right tones to make at the right time. “Veritas Vos Liberabit” has elements of both opposing moods. While Perelman takes flight with one of his ear piercing high note solos, Shipp and Parker remain composed but firm. Somewhere in the middle of that piece, Shipp lays out and Parker bowed bass emerges, starting out as a low din and then as Perelman joins in, both raise their intensity until they sound like a couple of angry hornets.
Book of Sound is what happens when you put three highly intuitive musicians in a (studio) room with nothing but their instruments and their intuition to rely upon. From thin air comes this abundance of potent music.
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