By Ken Waxman
Ivo Perelman's nine harsh, uncompromising improvisations starkly reduce the playing field to black and white. The tenor saxophonist is seconded on Black and White by a team that was Cecil Taylor's rhythm section at the time, although New York-based bassist Dominic Duval and drummer Jackson Krall have also worked with nearly every committed improviser from multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee to bassist William Parker. Perelman's trio concentrates on nine sound paintings, with the first three around or exceeding the ten-minute mark. Braying and yapping, Perelman's tenor could be the auditory definition of abstract expressionism as he zigzags through the themes like a drip painter.
On the first and longest piece, which is also the title track, his squeals and doits make common cause with the bowed portamento from Duval. Double and triple tonguing, Perelman treats his composition like an artist's preliminary pencil sketches, drafting one idea after another onto the canvas and working variations on each. As Krall bangs away in the background, the thickness of the saxophonist's lines then skitter into the equivalent of narrow brush strokes: choked, unaccompanied altissimo.
Perelman's molten reed interface can be as in-your-face as Ayler's was, as he demonstrates on "Cumplicidade." Proceeding on raw energy, he uses lower-pitched tongue slaps and cries to construct a new melody that matches shaking chirps at one end and basso honks at the other. Meanwhile Duval produces guitar-like chromatic runs that interrupt Perelman's irregularly pitched and repetitive chirrups. Elsewhere, in between the saxophonist's frequent, yet unexpected detours into overblown altissimo, Duval gets to showcase his dense, steady finger plucks and bowing.
Rigorous and obdurate, Black on White can be acknowledged more than appreciated for its unrelieved harshness, which makes it seem lengthier than its 66 minutes.
Personnel: Ivo Perelman: tenor saxophone; Dominic Duval: bass; Jackson Krall: drums.