Thursday, May 19, 2016

Ivo Perelman - Soul (Leo Records, 2016)

This album was recorded in a burst of creativity in February of 2016. Just a week after recording the duet record Corpo with his longtime friend and colleague pianist Matthew Shipp, tenor saxophonist Ivo Perelman decided to strike while the fire was hot and convene a quartet project with Shipp returning on piano, Matthew Bisio on bass and Whit Dickey on drums. “Metaphysical” opens the album with rich piano and saxophone developing a supple sound as drums and bass quietly shade around the edges. Shipp builds tension slowly from the piano, with the bass and drums in tow. Perelman’s saxophone returns for the ending of the song, sounding both pensive and emotional. There is a choppy and nervous sensibility to “Crossing” with exciting ripples of piano playing off against skittish saxophone and drums. The music is never still, but moves like shifting sand along desert dunes as Shipp sends out dense chorded information and there is a great reaction from the saxophone and cymbals which dig in and play well in conjunction with strong piano and bass. “Eyround” is open and abstract with smears of dark sounding piano and stark silences that Shipp is the master of. The music is taut and impressionistic, and the dynamic between sound and silence is jarring. “Fragments” opens with Dickey developing very interesting textured percussion that skitters lightly across the music while saxophone and piano quietly enter and Bisio’s bass probes for an opening. There is a very interesting section where Shipp lays back allows wide open space for saxophone, bass and drums to improvise in collectively. Thoughtful piano, bass and shimmering cymbals lay down beautiful patterns for Perelman’s yearning saxophone on “Belvedere.” His saxophone playing is deeply emotional and resonant, never resting, always searching for more. Soulful saxophone and piano are suspended in space for the beginning of “Landscape,” bowing gracefully and dancing before subtle but fast bass and percussion who arrive to pick up the pace. There is an excellent section of fast collective improvisation that shows superb control of the dynamic edge of a performance, and of a group playing as one united whole. There is spare and beautiful solo piano on the beginning of “Soul” and Pereleman enters with long exhalations of breath through his instrument making for a dreamy atmosphere. The leader breaks free with a beautiful solo, one which seems to gleam with energy, like the golden sunlight of a beautiful autumn day, and the music is played with blissful patience that borders on timelessness. On “Joy,” saxophone and bass work into the higher registers of their instruments and the duet beginning works well, as they set the stage for the full bands improvisational section where everyone kicks nicely up to speed as Perelman’s squalls of saxophone are ably matched by driving piano, bass and drums. “The Unknown” is the culminating track on the album, with Perelman leaping out free and unfettered, playing excited circles of sound along side Matthew Shipp’s luscious piano. The music is fast and hypnotic, yet the musicians are able to stop on a dime and move in a different direction, evoking spare wide open spaces. The leader’s horn weaves amongst deep bass and nimble piano and drums to the conclusion. In Neil Tesser’s liner essay, he notes that Perelman took several months off from the studio in late 2015 to reconnect to classical music. Through study and practice, he developed a “muscular yet relaxed” method of playing that he compared to tai chi. On this album you definitely hear the fruits of this intense period of woodshedding, because Perelman’s sound is natural and individual. He retains the strength that he has always played with, but there is no sense of forcing the music, rather it flows organically, fitting in perfectly with his longtime colleagues to produce an excellent album and great enthusiasm over what might be on the horizon. Soul - Leo Records.

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