Monday, April 30, 2018

Ivo Perelman and Matthew Shipp - Oneness (Leo Records, 2018)

Tenor saxophonist Ivo Perelman and pianist Matthew Shipp have had a longstanding musical partnership, one which has become even more intense over the past few years, culminating in last years seven volume series The Art of Perelman - Shipp on Leo Records. The original idea for this album was more modest, they would so into the studio and just play, gathering the best performances that could be placed on a single disc. But their musical partnership had reached such a simpatico level that the music developed organically within the studio and before they knew it, there were three discs worth of outstanding duet performances ready for release. What is most impressive is the seeming ease with which the music flows forth, freely improvised but developing ideas and thoughts that develop in real time, allowing for conversation and a back and forth sharing of ideas and motifs. There is a great deal of space and patience at play in the music, and neither Perelman nor Shipp sees the need to force anything, rather allowing the music to flow in a very natural manner, with the saxophonist using everything from peals of sharply angled sound to long tones of breath, allowing space where the pianist can lay down a series of notes or chords that frame, balance or challenge the saxophone. Playing together in tandem they can fill as much or as little of the available space as they choose, patiently developing improvisation that can follow its own path. Many of the performances on this album are short, pointed tracks, that show the musicians saying only what was necessary, and then paring away the unnecessary sound that allows them to reach their goal in a brief and pithy manner. At times there can be a squall of notes from Perelman's saxophone that takes the music to an even more advanced level with strong accompaniment on the piano that can power the music while also dynamically allowing it to soar in space and time, in an organic and natural manner. The music is at turns darker and harsher with the saxophone lashing out in an unexpected manner, like a sudden jolt, evolving in a massive downpour of sound that is one of the most thrilling aspects of this album. These moments are used sparingly, and much of the music is actually quiet and beautiful. Music fans looking for an entry to free jazz without being overwhelmed may find a good starting point here. Perelman and Shipp play at an elevated level, but the conversational nature of the music and the compassion and thoughtfulness that is imbued within it offer a sense of patient exploration that is very appealing. Oneness -

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