Thursday, February 21, 2013

Ivo Perelman on Leo Records part 1 - "Family Ties" and Living Jelly" with Joe Morris and Gerald Cleaver

Ivo Perelman continues the supreme series of albums entitled after works by Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector (you can find on the blog more about "Stream of Life" duo with Brian Wilson as well as "Hour of the Star" by the quartet with M. Shipp, J. Morris and G. Cleaver). I can't speak for the quality of books but I the consistent  quality of the albums is something to behold. 
In 2012 Leo Records released 6 new albums by Ivo and a collective review seems only logical and long overdue.

Family Ties

Ivo Perelman - tenor sax, kazoo, mouthpiece
Joe Morris - bass
Gerald Cleaver - drums

Leo Records 2012

Two of the tracks presented on "Hour of the Star" were actually recorded as a pianoless trio and it comes as no surprise the three wanted to play more together. Without the anchor of the Matthew Shipp's piano the saxophone is freer yet the music gets much lighter, while the perfect timekeeping by the Joe Morris - Gerald Cleaver team is even more transparent and essential.

The title track that begins the cd is an extended piece based on a strange beat - steady, hypnotic, repetitive drum-bass pattern seem to  merge in the background as the Ivo squeezes harsh tones from the sax. "The Imitation of the rose" gets it really going - the cooking rhythm section, the dense   and quirky bass lines, the percussive drive (light on plates, gracefull on the toms) and freewheeling tenor rolling over that with panache. Similar drive and joyfull passion of spontaneous creation, based on heavy and muscular bass lines can be found in "Mystery in Sao Christovavo" - my personal favourite of the album.  
The center piece of the cd is a 25 minutes long "Love" and in its course the trio displays both melodic attention as well as some fiery passion although the music feels generally light and highly musical. Perelman's sax playing might be very abstract most of the time nonetheless one can easily perceive its natural flow and emotional quality.
"Preciousness" stands out as it's a delicate if darkly hued saxophone - bass duo where subdued tones of arco complete perfectly the hushed saxophone laments.
The last track of the cd "The buffallo" attest to Ivo's bluesy inclinations, soulfull and relaxed tone, spare bass walking and stylish gentle brushes against the drums - a fun and tasty finish to the album.

Living Jelly

Ivo Perelman - tenor sax
Joe Morris - guitar
Gerald Cleaver - drums

Leo Records 2012

Same musicians but not quite the same trio - Joe Morris puts away the bass and picks up the electric guitar on that one.
I usually try to refrain myself from citing liner notes but Joe Morris finds possibly a perfect way to describe Ivo's musical vision and it seems pointless to search for other words - passionate abstractionist. Ivo's playing reconcile the emotional charge with technical agility and intellectual sophistication with a rare grace. 

Cd begins with "In pursuit of Pleasure" and from the very first moment you know you're in for a treat - rich and fluent melody flow from saxophone, well-pointed guitar chords that bring out the groove and drum pulse that makes your toes tap with or without your permission. "Playing with Mercury" presents a much different appraoch to rhythm - heavily scattered, pizzicato lines slowly develop longer and more complex, the rhythmic accents distributed between the three instruments create a densely layered structure. Ivo, as cited in the liner notes, gave his interpretation of the title as "living pulsating organism" and pulse and groove are present in abundance on the cd.
"The Sloth" surprises with a change of pace and a most lyrical, gentle and intimate interplay between the saxophone and guitar. "Enigma" starts with a seemingly telepathic circular lines by Ivo and Joe, joined and accentuated soon by the propulsive drumming the pushes music forward, frenetic and slightly crazy. This time the title track ends the album - a hypnotic soundcloud of cyclical, blurred guitar chords, and polyrythmic accents (some incrediblye playing by Gerald on this one) and searching, strongly rhythmic, ferocious sax solo.

Throughout the entire album the melodic and incessant drums drive fuels and pushes the music forward like a well-oiled engine. The saxophone flies high and dives deep changing the direction at ease. The difference between this and the previous trio's recording is that with Joe on guitar, there's a second leading instrument on a record. The hoppy guitar provides a wide harmony palette and but shares proudly solo duties as well adding a much welcomed balance to the music - in fact some of the guitar-drums duos are among the strongest moments of the cd.

Both albums are well worth listening to, but if you have to chose one go with the "Living Jelly" - it  is more consistent and coincise (at 75 minutes long the "Family Ties" is a bit much to take at one sitting), it has more balance and to simply put Joe Morris's guitar playing is off the hook on this one. A brilliant recording.

some tracks (both albums) are available on this playlist.
ps. I will write more about recent Ivo's recordings (hence the "part 1" in the title post), in the meantime, enjoy the trio's video:

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