Garden of Jewels is an apt title for this CD. It contains music that is luminous and multifaceted like a jewel, sparkling from many different angles. The musicians here, saxophonist Ivo Perelman, pianist Matthew Shipp and drummer Whit Dickey all developed individual sounds out of the musical freedom principles pioneered in the Sixties, and have played with each other before on several occasions. Perelman and Shipp have teamed up for many recordings and Dickey has worked with both men, together and separately, in various groups. Improvising here, they sound very comfortable with each other and able to respond to each other's ideas instantly with inspiration.
There are few fire-breathing free music blasts here. Perelman's tenor playing is constantly musical as it shifts between sharp yelps and cries and shards of deep, blossoming melody. He sometimes seems to thread a jagged line between Albert Ayler and Earl Bostic. Shipp complements his playing with an array of creeping runs and crashing chords while Dickey decorates the edges of the sound with well-placed hits and clangs. The three strike up bristling conversations on "Tourmaline," where Perelman's tipsy melodic squeaks are answered by repeating piano phrases, and on "Amethyst," where his shrill tooting becomes entangled with chopping drum strokes and rattling keyboard runs.
Shipp and Dickey begin "Onyx" dropping low notes and faint rustle into a well of deep silence before Perelman slips in with a high whistling sound which gains in power as the piano and drums become more violent. "Turquoise" has the trio whirling together in ever faster tempos, with Perelman sounding almost hysterical against Shipp's murmuring and Dickey's intricate carpet of beats and cymbal strikes. Elsewhere, the saxophonist shows some of the instincts of a romantic old-school tenor balladeer. On "Sapphire" he plays with a rich, barreling sound but slides into yodeling abstraction as his partners pounce and roll. He keeps the slow, wobbly sound of a classic tenor player flowing throughout "Diamond," but his partners' line of tickling notes and percussive crashes bring a stream-of- consciousness feel to the music. It sounds familiar yet disorienting.
Ivo Perelman is definitely the lead voice for most of this workout but Shipp's and Dickey's interaction with him is invaluable. They enliven the spaces beneath and between his cries and help create a tightly woven tapestry of exciting, unpredictable music. This is a particularly inspired session from these three veteran musicians.
Garden Of Jewels; Tourmaline; Amethyst; Onyx; Turquoise; Emerald; Sapphire; Diamond.