Tenor saxophonist Ivo Perelman and pianist Matthew Shipp are as prolific a team of improvisers as jazz offers. The pair have been bringing their spontaneous music to global audiences for much of the last ten years but their partnership dates back decades. Perelman and Shipp have released ten duo recordings in the past five years and another dozen in larger group formations. What makes Live in Nuremberg stand out in an already impressive catalog, is how the two perform in the live setting. Their studio albums are packed with compact vignettes but on this album, like Live in Brussels (Leo Records, 2017), Perelman and Shipp's unrestrained enthusiasm is spurred by the live audience. The resulting suite-length performance opens Perelman and Shipp to a new level of creativity.
At almost one-hour "Part I" accounts for most of the album, a four-minute "Encore" closing the recording. As practitioners of free jazz Perelman and Shipp consistently take a refined approach, offering passing tributes to squally free jazz rituals, but more often focusing on individual and paired examinations of sound and its direction. Perelman has an affinity for experimenting in the upper register of the tenor sax and this long-form allows him to explore more broadly, see-sawing through the instrument's wide range. Shipp's brief solo at around the six-minute mark is one of the few times that the duo is not reacting or networking. The sax and piano are rarely at odds; the dialog has a harmonizing quality but avoids resting on a complete symmetry. It is just enough for Perelman and Shipp to push each other.
Live in Nuremberg was recorded at The Art of Improvisation Festival in 2019 and that "art" has infrequently been demonstrated with more class than this album captures. In the most demanding passages, Perelman and Shipp preserve a pleasing sound, often evocative, continuously searching, and never over- the-top. Where there are torrents of notes, they are purposeful, leading to shifts in color and temperament. Listeners unfamiliar with this duo would be well-served to start their exploration with Live in Nuremberg.
Part I; Encore.
Ivo Perelman: tenor saxophone; Matthew Shipp: piano.
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