Thursday, November 02, 2017

Ivo Perelman - Octagon (Leo Records, 2017)

Considering the wealth of great music that tenor saxophonist Ivo Perelman has released this year, this album is one of his most unique. Not only is his regular partner, pianist Matthew Shipp, taking a breather for this keyboard-less quartet session, but it marks only the second time that Perelman has recorded with another horn, and the first time with a trumpeter. When he first heard trumpeter Nate Wooley for this first time, playing with Shipp, he was knocked out by the trumpeter's vision and skill, and vowed to make a record with him. It took a little time for the schedules to line up, but this album, rounded out with Brandon Lopez on bass and Gerald Cleaver on drums was finally recorded in June of 2017 in Brooklyn. The results are well worth the wait, as the music unfolds over the course of eight improvised performances, with the quartet playing at a very high level, incorporating aspects of free jazz and incorporating some interesting spontaneous motifs that develop as the music progresses. Wooley is a ideal foil for Perelman, and his ability to coax a wide range of sounds, textures and colors out of his horn fit in perfectly with the saxophonists open ended aesthetic. The combination of trumpet and tenor saxophone has been part of jazz since the beginning of the music's history, and has been featured in groups that set the standard for modern music such as the bands that Miles Davis led with John Coltrane and Wayne Shorter. While respecting this history, Perelman and Wooley strike out for deeper territory, rarely jumping out as soloists, but interacting almost like visual artists, applying light and shade, and using the full range of each of their instruments to create unique soundsacpes that are well suited to the natural flow of their improvisations. Guttural sounds made in their instruments are played off against high pitched bursts and squalls making for a very robust, and exciting interaction. Lopez and Cleaver are also excellent in this setting, maintaining free and open pacing and rhythm that allows the music to breathe and the members of the group to develop their own unique statements. The music moves seamlessly from modern jazz to free improvisation and the individual tracks on this album move from abstract and ethereal through to flat out blasting collective improvisation. All in all, this was an excellent meeting of the minds and a very well played album, filled with realized potential. Octagon -

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