Brazilian tenor master Perelman returns to the fray with not one but two rhythm...
Peter Marsh 2004-02-25
Brazilian saxophonist Ivo Perelman started his musical life as a classical guitar prodigy, before switching to the tenor in his teens in search of an instrument that would provide him with his authentic musical voice. Jazz studies at Berklee didn't work out, and the story goes that Perelman's Coltrane-esque habit of taking 20 minute solos didn't endear him to his bandmates at L.A. jam sessions.
Since then, Perelman has turned out a series of albums that range from fusionesque readings of Brazilian folk songs with the likes of Airto Moreira and Peter Erskine to a series of free improv albums on the esteemed Leo label. Some of these have featured Perelman's cello and guitar, and of late he's concentrated on a career as an abstract painter. Although this was partly a consequence of problems resulting from his very physical approach to the saxophone, it's a sign that maybe his search for a creative voice is still ongoing.
This album sees him back on tenor with a heavyweight cast of rhythm players; in the blue corner we have Anthony Braxton's classic rhythm section of Mark Dresser and Gerry Hemingway; in the red corner Dominic Duval and Jay Rosen on bass and drums respectively.
This is Perelman at his most fiery, yet like the best free jazz tenors, his playing is shot through with a tenderness that stays just the right side of sentimentality. His heavily vocalised tone has put some in mind of Albert Ayler, and while there's a similarity in some of his keening, doleful lines, he's in no way a copyist. His fondness for extreme, false register effects coupled with folkish, stately lines is more reminiscent of Impulse-era Gato Barbieri at his most inspired.
Though all the compositions are credited to Perelman, this is basically a collectively improvised music. The tunes are like calls to prayer; a gathering of forces, setting out germs of ideas to be explored or ripped apart in the improvisations that follow. Basses and drums generate a steady flow of ideas and punctuations underneath the skyscraping intensities of the leader's incantory screams and howls, but rarely mark time as such.
The CD sleeve sports reproductions of Ivo's paintings. It's tempting to see parallels between their rich, expressionist daubs and the emotionally charged abstractions of Perelman's restless muse. Halfway through CD2 you might start to feel a little punch drunk, but there's an almost redemptive power in this living, breathing music if you're prepared to let it do its stuff.