Tenor saxophonist Ivo Perelman is an imaginative and intrepid musical explorer. His prolific discography is replete with unique examples of his restless creativity all bearing his inimitable style. On the sensual The Purity of Desire Perelman joins forces with oud player Gordon Grdina and percussionist Hamin Honari. Together they perform a set of eight originals inspired by the works of the 13th century Persian Sufi poet Jalal Ad Din Rumi.
The title track unfurls over Honari's complex rustling beats. Perelman's serpentine lines flow with passionate lyricism. Grdina's muscular and simmering chords mirror Perelman's free-flowing and yearning sax. The captivating piece builds on the middle-eastern motif with unbridled spontaneity. Neither this nor any of the others on the album is a mere pastiche or "fusion" of sounds; they are all cohesive extemporizations infused with Levantine mysticism.
For instance, on the introspective "Love is a Stranger," Perelman lets loose wistful phrases with shimmering warmth. Honari's tombak and Grdina's strings create a kaleidoscopic rhythmic structure around the saxophonist's contemplative meandering phrases. The three men exchange hypnotic refrains which coalesce into a sublime and angular ballad filled with subtle and elegant sophistication
Perhaps the tune that wanders furthest into thrillingly dissonant territory is the cinematic "The Joy That Wounds." Perelman constructs a crystalline melody out of edgy fragments and short wailing note clusters. Grdina strums, plucks and otherwise manipulates his instrument to create an ethereal otherworldly ambience. Honari's polyrhythms flow with a dark insistent cadence. The undulating three-way conversation is a simultaneous expression of anguish and elation, ire and exuberance. Its stimulating poetry both provokes angst and soothes the soul.
On this engrossing and singular recording, Perelman demonstrates that his innovation knows no boundaries. Delving deep into a non-western tradition, he is able to improvise with the brilliance that has been his trademark. The presence of a versatile virtuoso like Grdina and a talented genre-bender like Honari, and the synergy within the small ensemble adds another layer of ingenuity to this release. Much like Rumi's verses, The Purity of Desire is absorbing and immensely rewards attentive listeners.
Purity of Desire; Bridge to the Soul; Love is a Stranger; This Longing; A Garden Beyond Paradise; Music of a Distant Drum; The Joy That Wounds; Light upon Light
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