The Stream of Life
Ivo Perelman - tenor sax
Brian Wilson - drums
Leo Records 2010
Ivo Perelman released a couple of great records last year and with this one he made the last second jump to my El Intruso 2010 Poll votes on saxophone so I guess I should put some writing behind that vote.
Sax - drums duos are easily among my favourites (beginning with Coltrane & Ali on "Interstellar Space", my first truly free listening experiene, the one that opened new both stellar and interstellar spaces in my mind). With just two instruments this is as simple as it gets, primal indeed - just kick and cry, rhytm and melody, and yet (or thus) it can go all ways and directions imaginable, with two instruments and two instrumentalists on full display, bare, without any possibility to hide from Your ears.
Ivo Perelman can be Yours truly free-jazz high-register screamer but on this one he's playing is relaxed, almost mellow, free yet very accessible. And that's in big part thanks to Brian Wilson's drumming - with lots of attention to detail, gently touches on plates, light rolls on snare drum, he gives the harmonic depth the music. He's embellishing sax lines with clouds of pulsating polyrhythmics, but most importanly and quite amazingly, with constant and uplifting sense of swing. Wilson can introduce syncopated accents that makes You tap Your foot in any given second and he keeps Ivo never too far from jazz roots of improvisation, but they both can relate to many musical worlds - brazilian folk and r'n'b soul included. Ivo's playing is of impressive substance, with great melodies highlighting almost each track on the cd, with round, deep, soulfull and bluesy tone that reminds You of the greatest classic jazz tenor sax players (yes! Coleman Hawkins yet again - check the solo sax piece "A Bola e o Menino"). Dynamic and propulsive (edgy "Juntos Para Sempre"; "Vicarious Punishment" which features somewhat of a groovy r'n'b line on sax) or subdued and light-footed (meditative "After the Third Wall"; "Murmirious" worthy of any jazz ballads master in history with sweet tone of saxophone and drumming that is full of both swing and melody).
This one is simply an hour of jazz delight. Free in spirit and nature but never too far from jazz roots, with two musicians of great skills playing together in a way that any great duo should - close to synchronicity of minds but never loosing their individual features. A true jazz gem and I can't recommend it high enough.
ps1. It would be maybe too easy to describe Ivo's playing looking for similarity of the approach shown in his paintings, although this activity certainly enriches his artistic vision. On that note - Ivo's recent recordings feature some of the most beautiful cover arts I've seen in a while.
ps2. I recommend also a close reading of James C. Hall's liner notes included in the booklet - some very thoughtfull observations on the nature of the duo itself, the creative force of the swing or three aspects of improviser's performance.