Ivo Perelman – Corpo, Blue, The Hitchhiker (2016)

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Last month Ivo Perelman does what has lately become an annual or semi-annual event for him: he released not one but a fistful of albums featuring new, totally improvised recordings. Choosing from a fairly small but intensely talented group of fellow music visionaries, the masterful tenor saxophonist’s only real decision he usually makes in planning an album is which combination of these savants will he use to make music that don’t exist in any form until the ‘record’ button is pushed. And then when he’s done, he leaves Neil Tesser the thankless job of putting into words art way too abstract and arresting to adequately put into words.

Tesser actually does a commendable job in unraveling the mysteries behind the sequence of notes that only existed in that moment. To dissect this music you almost have to remove yourself from experiencing it at how Perelman’s otherworldly sonorities is meant to be absorbed, which is at a gut level. Three of Ivo’s fresh dishes are duets, and in a departure from the usual method of sizing up records one at a time, we’re going to take on Corpo (with Matthew Shipp), Blue (with Joe Morris), The Hitchhiker (with Karl Berger) at once. Why?

Well, why not? One of the notable ways about Perelman is his adaptability to any given setting. Even within the sub-realm of one-on-ones, Perelman adjusts his line of attack to his lone counterpart. And most fascinating is how Perelman responds not just to the opposing instrument played but also the personality that comes through on that instrument. Taken all together, Corpo, Blue and The Hitchhiker provides a good demonstration of how Perelman draws contrasts in his duet collaborations while staying within his own character.

There’s another purpose to these three sessions also applicable to the other two: Perelman for the first time applies an intervallic system whereby he gives the intervals between the pitches in a scale equal weight.

Corpo once again is Perelman squaring off with one of his favored partners, the pianist Shipp. This marks the sixteenth time the two have performed together on a record…since 2010. To the musical scholar, the way that Perelman and Shipp treat fifths, thirds and sevenths without any favoritism toward any of them might be the point of intrigue, but for the rest of us, a simpatico that has now become impeccable is the reason for the magic. Over twelve pieces performed and recorded in the same sequence as it’s presented on the record, Perelman and Shipp move in the same direction, in the same sentiment and in the same cadence. Whether they are somber (“Part 1”), frisky (“Part 2”), moving between dissonance and dulcetness (“Part 5”) or fluidity and choppiness (“Part 6”), it’s hard to consistently tell who is leading whom. And when that’s occurring, there’s truly a oneness of mind.

Blue reconvenes prior partners, but in a new way. Morris, who is typically heard playing either an acoustic bass or electric guitar, plays on acoustic guitar for this unusual type of duet. Though rarely (if ever) done, Perelman fully understood the special wrinkle involved when a saxophone working directly with an unamplified guitar: “…with an acoustic guitar, the moment that Joe lefts his finger from the string, the sound dies. You’re all alone. So that was the challenge for me, to play with something so soft-spoken.” Morris’ approach to acoustic guitar is very much like his approach to electric guitar: diffused and unpredictable; he sets down a craggy path and rarely repeats himself. Perelman is accordingly less reserved in his incursions, more prone to exhibit sorrow or rage from his tenor, and he often reflects back Morris’s mood (“Tight Rope” is a prime example of that). In short, Blue attests to Perelman’s pliancy, able to greet any unfamiliar setting simply by emphasizing some facets of his personality over others.

The Hitchhiker, like Blue, casts Perelman opposite another certain instrument for the first time, this being Berger’s vibraphone. Berger was playing a piano on a Perelman record just two years prior (Reverie) but his knack for exploiting economy and space carries over to his vibes. Often using well-defined figures as a way to lay the groundwork for free exploration, Berger also knows how to exploit the vibraphone’s capacity to make notes hang in the air. Put another way, he gives Perelman plenty to build upon. “The Shadowy Path” is festive, almost Carnival-like. But Berger is just as capable of casting a dark, troubled tone as he does for the very next song, “The Well Of Memory.” The two find grooves scampering up and down progressions on “The Hitchhiker,” and each take turns going completely ‘solo’ with Perelman performing an aching — almost wailing — soliloquy on “Pride And Prejudice” while Berger endeavors in his own particular phrasing unaccompanied for “Extremely Loud While Incredibly Quiet.”

Three duos with exponentially more ideas; Ivo Perelman makes a lot of music because he has so much to say. Even when there is only one other musician alongside him with which to express all these new inspirations.

Corpo, Blue and The Hitchhiker are all now available through Leo Records.

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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