Ivo Perelman / Joe Morris / Gerald Cleaver: Family Ties (2012)
Her boyfriend might have left Janis Joplin with nothing, as she asserts in her classic version of Kris Kristofferson's "Me and Bobby McGee," but Ivo Perelman refutes Joplin's claim that "freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose" on Family Ties.
The Brazilian saxophonist has returned to recording with a deluge of releases, this outpouring being inspired by his latest quartet, three-quarters of which are represented here. Missing is pianist Matthew Shipp, who is heard on the The Hour Of The Star (Leo Records, 2011).
In many ways though, this remains a quartet record, as Shipp's presence is felt throughout. Perelman's creative concept often splits his band into duos and trios to build upon a notion. As all the music is freely improvised, their inclination is that all parts support the whole, and this recording is a continuation of the quartet's conversation.
Opening with kazoo, Perelman spits and sputters bird-like passages over drummer Gerald Cleaver's tom-toms, giving way to his lower register tenor explorations. The saxophonist pauses while Cleaver turns to his cymbals, only returning with guitarist-turned bassist Joe Morris to infuse additional energy into the mix. Where other free improvisation can get lost, this band maintains a structure and organization to the music. The saxophonist's upper register flights retain context, and flow is uninterrupted.
Elsewhere, that same scaffolding can be found. "The Imitation of the Rose" almost rocks out with Cleaver's drumming and Morris' powerful walking bass line. Within the muscular beat, Perelman is given the latitude to exhale some fiery notes and soar into more upper register explorations. Given the commission of this band, even an instantly composed piece like "Love," which clocks in at nearly 25 minutes, maintains the framework throughout.
The most accessible venture here is the closing blues, "The Buffalo," the trio negotiating its lonely road with the simplicity and elegance known only to accordant players. Like any effective blues, the mode may be simple but the thoughts expressed are varied and quite textured; sort of a fine ribbon that wraps a found object from the street, making the ordinary extraordinary.
Track Listing: Family Ties; The Imitation of the Rose; Love; Preciousness; Mystery in Sao Christovao; The Buffalo.
Personnel: Ivo Perelman: tenor saxophone, kazoo, mouthpiece; Joe Morris: bass; Gerald Cleaver: drums.