Friday, November 25, 2016

Ivo Perelman / Karl Berger / Gerald Cleaver - Art of the Improv Trio Vol 1 (Leo Records, 2016)

This is a fascinating and dynamic album recorded with tenor saxophonist Ivo Perelman accompanied by Karl Berger on piano and Gerald Cleaver on drums. All of these men are longtime veterans of the avant / free jazz scene, and this album also marks the beginning of Perelman’s ambitious Art of the Improv Trio series. The album is a series of collective improvisations, where everyone is playing their instruments in a thoughtful and open manner. Subtle peals of air and darting keyboard and percussion sounds encourage Perelman’s evocative saxophone into higher pitches and breathy lulls. Punchy, sharp squeaks and hollow clanks work also very well as the music develops. Moving further afield, several of the performances paint the air with quiet authority with thoughtful piano chords, notes and breath, developing a haunted air akin to the music that Albert Ayler developed with his acoustic trios in the mid 1960’s, at least until Perelman breaks the spell, by pushing his instrument into a more strident focus and truly claiming the music as his own. Always shifting and darting percussion never allows the music to become stale in combination with the circling nature of Perelman’s saxophone it gives the music a sense of energy that is comparable to an unstoppable cosmic force of nature that is yearning to break free. The music is in constant motion, as Berger takes his piano through descending trails of notes, and Perelman meets them with high pitched saxophone calls. Some of the improvisations will begin with Perelman alone, playing with a lonely, quiet and serious sound, that then develops a wide range of emotional color soon to be shaded patiently by Cleaver’s percussion in a quietly emotional performance. At times a feeling of abandoned sadness overflows in emotional squalls of saxophone and carries the music forward where Perelman becomes very forthright in his improvising, ascending and descending in passion and volume while Berger’s piano moves in the free space created by the harsher sounds. There are beautiful interludes for saxophone, with Perelman playing with a raw and wounded sound that is emotionally open and free from pretense. His tone is captivating and his patient cries of saxophone usher in sections that have ecstatic blasts of percussive drums and bursts of raw saxophone that meet and converse and delve even deeper into the artistic principles of improvised music. The album is complemented by wholly improvised music where the squeaks and squiggles of fast saxophone meet the shimmering nature of the percussion and piano in an example of great interplay. It becomes an exciting romp, playful and fun, between colleagues who have nothing but the highest respect for one another. Art of the Improv Trio Vol 1 - amazon.com

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