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Ivo Perelman: Brass And Ivory Tales


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Ivo Perelman: Brass And Ivory Tales
Innovative saxophonist Ivo Perelman celebrates his 60th birthday with the release of a magnum opus, Brass And Ivory Tales. Recorded over a period of seven years, this nine-volume box set is impressive in both its depth and breath as it matches Perelman with a different piano master per disc. The improvised duets are usually the first documented meeting between the two musicians and the instant and rapidly evolving synergy is fresh and thrilling. Both remarkable and expected is Perelman's ability to adapt to the style of each of his partners without losing his individuality.

"Tale One" pairs Perelman with the idiosyncratic pianist Dave Burrell on two long tracks that seamlessly flow into one another for a conceptually cohesive whole. From the first hesitant exchange of notes to the warm, melodic finale, Burrell's unconventional approach to creativity perfectly complements Perelman's own. The fifty-seven minutes in-between is a stimulating and emotive conversation that is sometimes tense, often laid back and always captivating. Burrell, with his futuristic Harlem stride creates delightfully dizzying sonic swirls while Perelman lets his muscular and mellifluous lines meander around Burrell's crystalline chiming chords alternating between ebullience and melancholy.

In contrast, "Tale Four" featuring pianist Aaron Parks has a distinct serenity and a contemplative mood. Both musicians deftly utilize silent pauses as not only space holders but also as a third voice in their poetic dialogue. Recorded two months after Burrell's session, this album also consists of a few long pieces that reflect a mix of western classical influences and an eastern mysticism. "Chapter 2" is particularly dramatic as it opens with sparse resonant piano chords and breathy meandering tenor saxophone. The two trends evolve and transform together, growing fiery and restless. As the piece embraces more quietude the music fades into the same zen spirituality with which it started. Perelman and Parks sublimely and successfully balance introspective musings with emotive embellishments.

The earliest recording in the series is "Tale Two" with pianist Marylin Crispell. It is from March of 2014 and is the most lyrical of the "tales." Indeed a few of the tracks are unique and haunting ballads. Needless to say these are not traditional "tunes" by any stretch of imagination. Although boppish elements permeate "Chapter 1" and "Chapter 9" there are plenty of captivatingly free explorations. For instance the angular, "Cubist" extemporizations on "Chapter 2" are tempered with the fiery abstractions of "Chapter 8." Meanwhile the dark musings of "Chapter 3" progress to the anxious yet playful discourse of "Chapter 5." Through it all Crispell and Perelman elegantly engage one another in a dynamic and virtuoso interplay that is simultaneously thoughtful and moving.

Similarly, "Tale Five," that pairs Perelman with the brilliant pianist Sylvie Courvoisier, which is made up of eleven crystalline gems that mesmerize with their electrifying complexity. On "Chapter 9" Courvoisier sprinkles resonant notes over Perelman's serpentine lines. Perelman's tenor roams within Courvioisier's reverberating chords creating a tense ambience that carries over to the melancholic "Chapter 10." The mournful saxophone and the chiming keys paint an abstract sonic picture. The hypnotic refrains endow the piece with a dramatic sense. Perelman blows a spontaneous and graceful tone poem while Courvoisier's sharp melodic fragments glitter against it like shards of stained glass. There are also moments of intense fury and passion. The delightfully riotous repartee on "Chapter 2" embraces dissonance with breathtaking virtuosity. Similarly on "Chapter 8" Courvoisier and Perelman go from pensive introspection to extroverted expressions with exquisite agility and intelligent musicianship.

"Tale Six'' with Spanish pianist Agusti Fernandez is uncharacteristically somber with only occasional outbursts of fiery interplay. Opening with the suave contemplation of "Chapter 1" the music moves logically through the nine tracks. There is the charming dissonance of "Chapter 2" and the taut refrains of "Chapter 5" that construct a cohesive and thought-provoking discussion and an expectant ambience. The disc's grand finale is the evocative "Chapter 9." Perelman's shimmering tenor phrases undulate energetically over Fernandez's tumblimg keys gradually coalescing into a wistful lament. Fernandez continues on this solemn tone playing tolling chimes and dense chords with reserved melancholy concluding the performance on a spiritual note.

Equally poignant is the session with pianist Aruán Ortiz, "Tale Three.'' Ortiz sets an anticipatory mood with his percussive left hand while effectively punctuating Pereleman's expressive improvisation with his right. In the midst of Ortiz's sparse, yet explosive, rhythmic clusters Perelman articulately explores the range of his instrument. Ortiz progresses to manipulating the piano's innards to hypnotic effect. Ortiz has a knack for creating cinematic soundscapes by playing contrasting and complementary motifs with each hand. Perelman matches the pianist's dynamic tension with his imaginative and intricate soliloquy replete with carefully positioned squawks and honks. This intriguing and provocative music could easily serve as a score to an art house film.

On the eighth CD Pereleman and pianist Angelica Sanchez create intimate and transcendent poetry imbued with the colors of the night. Sanchez demonstrates her signature amalgamation of understated, charismatic finesse and simmering restlessness. Utilizing sparse notes and softly percolating vamps Sanchez builds subtle excitement and a tense atmosphere. On "Chapter 6" she matches Perelman's honks with percussive keys and reverberating strings. Later she engages Perelman in a mellow and soulful dialogue that eventually embraces a freer style as it rushes towards its tumultuous end. Elsewhere, as on "Chapter 8," Perelman alternates between urgency and reserved sorrow while his pliable wails perturb the dark sea of Sanchez's densely textured pianism.

The exuberant "Tale Seven" features pianist Craig Taborn whose singular improvisations are like intricately worked kaleidoscopic mosaics. Perelman lets loose long and dense meandering lines in an erudite, extemporaneous performance. His eloquence is tinged with yearning and his exchanges with Taborn are relaxed and inventive. There is also plenty of enthusiasm and even whimsy to the pair's animated and uproarious conversation. For instance, midway through "Chapter 1" the two musicians unleash a rapid exchange of clever and sharp phrases with lithe panache. What is remarkable is that Perelman and Taborn always remain in creative harmony with one another. This is regardless of whether their repartee is quiet and meditative or riotous and stormy.

The final and the ninth tale is an explorative duet with ingenious pianist Vijay Iyer. The spirited, spontaneous melodies are sometimes ruminative and brooding and at others incandescent and intense. In both instances there is a riveting camaraderie between the two men that goes beyond a simple give and take. Both extemporize concurrently expressing ideas that are interconnected yet distinct. On the centerpiece, "Chapter 3," Iyer enhances the tense mood with a cascade of chiming notes. Perelman interweaves his nostalgic phrases with Iyer's, giving the piece a smoldering and organic ethereality. Meanwhile, "Chapter One," is a refreshing banter between Perelman's muscular tenor and Iyer's persistent and breathtaking flood of tense notes. They alternate these vigorous and feisty segments with ones that are mellifluous and poetic with a mystical aura.

"Tale Nine" is an apt conclusion for this stimulating work as it solidifies Perelman's vision for this groundbreaking release more explicitly than anywhere else. Overall this impressive achievement can, perhaps, be considered Perelman's masterpiece. Regardless, it is an obvious standout in his uniformly superb and prolific output and makes for one hell of a heady listening experience.

Track Listing

CD1: Tale One with Dave Burrell: Chapter One; Chapter Two; CD2: Tale Two with Marilyn Crispell: Chapter One; Chapter Two; Chapter Three; Chapter Four; Chapter Five; Chapter Six; Chapter Seven; Chapter Eight; Chapter Nine; CD3: Tale Three with Aruán Ortiz: Chapter One; Chapter Two; ; Chapter Three; Chapter Four; Chapter Five; Chapter Six; Chapter Seven; CD4: Tale Four – Ivo Perelman with Aaron Parks: Chapter One; Chapter Two; Chapter Three; CD5 Tale Five – Ivo Perelman with Sylvie Courvoisier CD9 Tale Nine – Ivo Perelman with Vijay Iyer; Chapter Six; Chapter Seven; Chapter Eight; Chapter Nine; Chapter Ten; Chapter Eleven; CD6 Tale Six – Ivo Perelman with Agustí Fernández: Chapter One; Chapter Two; Chapter Three; Chapter Four; Chapter Five; Chapter Six; Chapter Seven; Chapter Eight; Chapter Nine; CD7 Tale Seven – Ivo Perelman with Craig Taborn: Chapter One; Chapter Two; ; Chapter Three; Chapter Four; Chapter Five; CD8 Tale Eight – Ivo Perelman with Angelica Sanchez: Chapter One; Chapter Two; Chapter Three; Chapter Four; Chapter Five; Chapter Six; Chapter Seven; Chapter Eight; Chapter Nine; CD9 Tale Nine – Ivo Perelman with Vijay Iyer: Chapter One; Chapter Two; Chapter Three; Chapter Four; Chapter Five.


Album information

Title: Brass And Ivory Tales | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Fundacja Sluchaj

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