Saxophonist Ivo Perelman’s Ever-Evolving Imagination
Prompts Project Featuring Cast of Rotating Trio Members on The Art Of The Improv Trio Volumes 1-6
Available November 4 via Leo Records
We’ve heard a lot about “stamina” in this election season, but any candidate throwing that term around should consult the tenor saxophonist Ivo Perelman. His release of six albums at once–bringing to 40 the total of recordings since 2010–speaks to his boundless imagination and limitless energy. The linkage between each of these new albums and the others, all collected under the rubric The Art Of The Improv Trio Volumes 1-6, represents the latest assault on musical complacency by the constantly evolving tenor saxophonist.
Five of these six recordings feature Perelman and one of his favorite drummers, Gerald Cleaver.
To this basic unit, all but one volume adds one other player. Sounds simple enough. But within the intimate and exposed format of the trio, replacing even one contributor has a significant impact–on the sound (depending on the instrument added); on the improvised arc and flow (owing to the interaction of different personalities); and on the underlying intent and overriding success of the music itself.
In The Art Of The Improv Trio, the new elements are in fact old musical friends and colleagues of Perelman: he has recorded with all of them in the recent past and, in some the case of two – bassist William Parker and pianist Matthew Shipp–on multiple occasions stretching back more than two decades. The other “free radicals” taking part on these recordings (one at a time) are pianist/vibraphonist Karl Berger, violist Mat Maneri, bassist/guitarist Joe Morris, and percussionist Whit Dickey.
“The trio, as a unit–me, Gerald, and one other–is a very interesting thing. And Gerald is such an incredibly flexible, adaptive drummer; in that sense, he is better than I am in reacting to what’s happening. That’s his role; my role is to provoke the reactions. And it is an incentive to growth, to have such brilliant musicians reacting to one dominant voice,” say Perelman. Taken together, these six volumes offer a detailed look at the various permutations of this most basic building-block of jazz, the trio; taken separately, each provides a completely discrete listening experience that stands on its own merits while adding to the enormous body of work under Perelman’s name.
To underscore the impact of the guest artists in this series of recordings, each has contributed his own words to the album on which he appears. On Volume 1, Karl Berger tells of his previous session with Perelman: “The colors on his palette seem to flow endlessly into each other, constantly creating new textures and dynamics. So it turned out to be very easy to play with him. We could have gone on for hours more, it seemed…We both felt a sense of development that was worth pursuing.”
On Volume 2, Mat Maneri writes, “This Art Of The Improv Trio is just that: a trio struggling to keep their own intentions intact, yet bending so far as so entrust you with our song,” while William Parker writes (for Volume 4): “The music we do is always transcending itself, unfolding in layers of sound, space, and colors. We are actually painting with sound and enabling the concept of vision to live – becoming a voice hearing and opening the floodgates of creativity. Joe Morris references the role of the listener when he says, on Volume 5, “Our part is one half; listeners make up the other half. Your focused listening and your assessment of the formulation, stories, shapes, meanings, and design–arrived at by your experience with the music–provides the part of our action that completes the process.”
Matthew Shipp references the concept behind this endeavor in the notes to his album. “[I]t can be really interesting if, say, Ivo makes a CD with a certain quartet and later makes a CD with the same group – but minus one member – and one can find a whole new way of relating to the other musicians by a modulation of function,” writes Shipp. “What Ivo Perelman is doing is tremendous and in some ways, how he is doing it is unprecedented…The way Ivo has generated a body of work from a recurring but revolving group of musicians who are related in musical temperament–who have played together in many different situations and groups, but who come in and out of each others’ lives at different times, and in and out of the Ivo Perelman universe at different times–is a process in and of itself.”
The final volume in this extraordinary series comprises a live performance by the trio that recorded Volume 5 in studio (with Morris and Cleaver). A writer who attended that concert, Filipe Freitas, provides an appropriate encomium when he states: “The trio has an impressive ear: they work tightly to assure that their different forms of expression will compose an organic whole. In other words: they’re true masters in the art of interaction and are capable of generating musical impressions in an effortless way.”
But as Perelman himself points out, nothing remains truly constant. Referring to his continued rigorous study of the saxophone technique–a field to which he has made more contributions to than any other reed player since Roscoe Mitchell–he says, “This process has not stopped. So throughout these six albums there is another definitive factor to be analyzed. It’s not only the change of personnel that makes each result different, but also my personal trajectory in learning to play the saxophone.”
About Ivo Perelman
Born in 1961 in São Paulo, Brazil, Perelman was a classical guitar prodigy who orbited a series of other instruments before finally gravitating to the tenor saxophone. His initial influences – cool jazz saxophonists Stan Getz and Paul Desmond–hardly prepared him for the galvanic, fiery, rule–breaking improvisations that have become Perelman’s stock-in-trade. Even after moving to Boston to attend Berklee College of Music in 1981, Perelman concentrated on the mainstream masters of the tenor sax, to the exclusion of such pioneering avant-gardists as Albert Ayler, Peter Brötzmann, and John Coltrane. (Critics would later cite all of these as precedents for Perelman’s own work).
Since 2010, he has been immersed in a “creative frenzy” that shows no sign of diminution. With close to 70 recordings now under his own name, Perelman continues a separate career as a visual artist, producing a steady stream of abstract drawings and paintings that have attracted admirers worldwide. His impassioned, unfettered, expressionist approach to the tenor sax – like the vivacious, hyperkinetic improvisations he creates – continues to captivate critics and fans even as it mystifies them.
Ivo Perelman · The Art Of The Improv Trio Volumes 1-6
Leo Records · Release Date: November 4, 2016
For more information on Ivo Perelman, please visit: IvoPerelman.com
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