You may have heard that the compact disc is dying, but you wouldn’t know it from this prodigious 2-CD set of over 100 minutes of relentless saxophonic stress-testing and rhythmic sensory overload. From his debut in 1989 through the late ‘90s, Ivo Perelman was wildly prolific and exhaustively documented, with more than 20 recordings appearing on a variety of small labels in barely a decade, an output all the more remarkable when you consider that Perelman’s jazz vocabulary is just a bit freer than, say, Albert Ayler’s.
It’s hard to say who needed a break more, the tenor player or his audience, but a few years ago he gave all of it (or most of it) up to devote his creative energy to painting. There has been some original music released in the last few years, but little of it recently recorded. As a statement of where Perelman has been the last few years and where he’s at now, the appearance of Suite for Helen F. is reason to be cheerful.
In what amounts to a multimedia presentation, seven individual parts of the suite correspond to paintings reproduced in the booklet, and considering the artwork while the music plays offers a rich experience. “Part 1” begins relatively jauntily, with Ivo sounding a bit like Sonny Rollins in the ‘50s. This doesn’t last long; by the end of the track, he’s producing nearly supersonic, electrifying squeals. Drummers Gerry Hemingway and Jay Rosen provide the accompaniment, and their telepathic swing in either channel gives primal support to Ivo’s expressive and instinctive playing. For “Part 2” bassists Mark Dresser and Dominic Duval step up to complete the Double Trio, and the music is dark and congested before only the bassists are left at the break, then Perelman comes tearing back like light that streams through a window wiped of soot.
And that’s just a third of the program. In the subsequent parts, Perelman and band essay sadness, rage, and joy with the cries, screams, and laughter of their instruments. With so much recorded music vying for your attention, a sound as passionately effusive as Ivo Perelman’s is at once original, uncommon, and undeniable. Welcome back.
This review originally appeared in AllAboutJazz-New York .
Personnel: Ivo Perelman - tenor saxophone;
Dominic Duval and Mark Dresser - basses;
Gerry Hemingway and Jay Rosen - drums.