and Matthew Shipp
: how many duo recordings have their been? Five? A dozen? More like sixteen, and that's not taking into account the double, triple, quadruple releases, nor Perelman/Shipp's recordings in trio, quartet, and quintet formats. The numbers boggle the mind, and truth be told, flatten the wallet. While you may ask why so many releases, maybe it's better to contemplate what if Eric Dolphy
or Albert Ayler
had been able to document this amount of music? How would jazz and improvised music have progressed? Thankfully we have this ongoing experimental thread in creative improvisation to follow. For many the music is comparable to one's favorite restaurant with consistent quality, daily specials, and a welcoming atmosphere. That is, of course, if you dig Brazilian/American free-fusion cooking.
This limited edition release of 300 includes a New York studio session from January 2019, a live concert from São Paulo captured on Blu-Ray video, and a book of essays by Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg detailing the history of Perelman/Shipp collaborations. SMP Records had previously released the pair's June 2019 concert Live In Nuremberg
, also in the now impossible to find limited edition.
The striking feature here is the contrast between the studio and live recordings. While the São Paulo date is one continuous hour of music, the studio recording contains twelve individual tracks from 2 to 7 minutes in length. In studio, the musicians are engaged in a musical tête-à-tête, while live their colloquy expands into a congress. In either case the Perelman/Shipp collaborations might be best described in terms of the Four Humors of Hippocrates' ancient Greek medicine. The humors, or elements, include: earth, water, air, and fire. For ancient practitioners and modern improvisers, these elements must be kept in balance for a healthy body of music. This is evident in the concert footage, with Shipp's percussive left hand modeling earth (which sometimes quakes) and Perelman's saxophone as air, which is quite often full of avian creatures. The saxophonist has perfected his altissimo attack, which is not unrelated to the Amazonian birds in his native Brazil. Both musicians trade in the remaining water and fire elements throughout both recordings. Ten minutes into the concert (again at 40 minutes) Shipp briefly solos with an approach that can only be described as multiple angels dancing on the head of a pin. With an audience present, Shipp's piano gestures are amplified, sometime like a boxer with a flurried two-handed attack, other times dropping a left-handed haymaker. Perelman's air and fire technique is by now a hallmark of his playing. He rarely journeys into the lower registers of his instrument, although he does dip into it when Shipp cuts out halfway through the concert. The pair maintain their humors balance throughout the hour long live date, with Shipp plucking strings inside his piano toward the conclusion only to prompt Perelman to follow by disconnecting his mouthpiece to release more ornithological subjects.
While the concert video acts as a conspicuous vehicle for those new to this duo, the studio session is a more intimate glimpse into this remarkable collaboration. Perelman and Shipp have no requirement to project their sound to the back of an auditorium here, so the feel is more like a private conversation. The hushed tones of "Track 1" sound more like Ben Webster
than Charles Gayle
. Shipp is directing his energies into patterns and algebraic equations, even providing personalized music for Perelman to dance to throughout. Strange as it may seem, this studio session has the feel as if it were laid down not for mass consumption, but as an epistolary poem between these two artists. Maybe that explains the very limited edition of this release.
Track 1; Track 2; Track 3; Track 4; Track 5; Track 6; Track 7; Track 8; Track 9; Track 10; Track 11; Track 12;