DownBeat March 2021


Perelman’s Massive Oeuvre

In 2020, soon after the pandemic reached Brooklyn, Ivo Perelman’s base of opera- tion for decades, the tenor saxophonist de- cided to relocate to Fortaleza, a city in the northeast corner of his native Brazil. Perel- man appreciates the daily routines he’s es- tablished since then: a jaunt to the beach, diving in the Atlantic Ocean and hours of studying bel canto opera. Since his move, these disciplines have provided Perelman with “the perfect combination for life,” he said during a December Zoom call. Arguably, Perelman stands as one of the most prolific free improvisers around: In the past three decades, he’s recorded about 100 albums, the bulk of them for British label Leo Records. His eponymous 1989 debut, Ivo —with its coterie of no- table guests like drummer Peter Erskine, percussionist Airto Moreira, pianist Eliane Elias and singer Flora Purim—established his bona fides as an avant-garde talent; he would go on to work with eminent creative musicians like drummer Andrew Cyrille, bassist Reggie Workman, and pianists Paul Bley and Joanne Brackeen. Perelman recently added three new al- bums to his massive oeuvre, each project wholly improvised and unique in character. In crafting each, the only concept Perelman brought into the studio with him was “to open my ears and heart to my fellow mu- sicians, because that’s how the dialogue takes place.” In November, Perelman released Sha- manism (Mahakala 009; 50:04 HHH 1/2 ) , a trio album with two of his long-standing collaborators, pianist Matthew Shipp and guitarist Joe Morris. Shifting between lyri- cism and bold expressivity, the album’s 10 tracks show off the bandleader’s ease in the challenging altissimo register on the saxophone. While Shipp and Morris probe fleeting harmonic ideas on tunes like “Spir- itual Energies” and “Religious Ecstasy,” Perelman catapults from the lower sonority of his instrument into the breathy, high- pitched wails and rasps that characterize his instrumental style. Shipp and Morris join the reedist in this esoteric musicality as equals; each player contributing in fair measure to the heft of impromptu compositions. Perelman ac- knowledges that the trio’s easy rapport makes for an advanced collective expres- sion: “It’s a three-way synergy of sorcerers,” he said. Ordering info: For his January release, The GardenOf Jewels (Tao Forms 004; 50:57 HHHH ) , Perelman chose a different tack for the trio

Kevin Sun (Un)seaworthy ENDECTOMORPH 009 HHH 1/2

A listing ship is pictured on the cover of Kevin Sun’s (Un)seaworthy , but it’s not reflective of a music that, for the most part, is on an even keel. Whether modifying a melody, as they do on “Bad Lady” or “Facsimilate (Unlike You),” Sun’s trio is locked in a highly creative, imaginative mode. The bandleader’s explosive saxophone, à la Anthony Braxton, is tonally and rhythmically in syncwithbassistWalter Stinsonanddrummer Matt Honor, as he alternates breathless runs and intervallic leaps to their constant beat. Immediately, it is clear that bandmembers have an intuitive feel for each other, and Sun knows exactly how to keep them alert and focused without stripping out their singular inventiveness. On “Prelude/Genuflecting At The Cathedral Of The Perpetual Hustle,” the ensemble’s full expressive force erupts, and Sun weaves with precision between the snap and pop of Honor’s drums, and Stinson’s sonorous bass. There are separate and distinctive moments when the rhythm team converses, especially on “Latinate,” demonstrating lavish musical con- tinuity. A heap of history is evoked across the album, too, though Sun is the sole composer and chief innovator with his Coltrane-like sprints up anddown scales, andhis nod to thepastwith sug- gestions of Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young. Evidence of this prevails on “Facsimilate (Unlike You),” where Sun offers a charming intimation of “JitterbugWaltz” at the song’s close. Overall, (Un)seaworthy is both a glance back and a look forward, indicating the vast promise of Sun and his trio’s potent understanding of jazz forebears. Theirs is a fervent, collective creativi- ty—and it’s only a beat or two from total fulfill- ment.  —Herb Boyd (Un)seaworthy: Bad Lady; Seaworthy (Unseaworthy); Latinate; Prelude/GenuflectingAt TheCathedral Of ThePerpetual Hustle; Facsimilate (Unlike You). (35:23) Personnel: KevinSun, tenor saxophone;Walter Stinson, bass; Matt Honor, drums. Ordering info:

Ivo Perelman

format. With Shipp again on piano, Perel- man invited drummer Whit Dickey to con- tribute a percussive layer to the intuitive communication. But he “didn’t want this album to become a ‘Perelman-Shipp duo plus drums,’” he noted. Excitement arises out of the trio’s ad- herence to the inner logic of Perelman’s ideas—the synced rhythmic patterns on “Tourmaline,” for instance, or the textur- al shading beneath the continuous horn line on “Turquoise.” The radiant sound of the ensemble led Perelman, who also is a painter and jewelry maker, to the project’s apt title: “[All of the tunes] are like a pre- cious stones, exquisitely polished—like a garden of jewels,” he said. Ordering info: Perelman never had played in a duo with a trumpeter until Polarity (Burning Ambulance 71; 39:15 HHH ) , his February release alongside Nate Wooley. On this al- bum—the most idiosyncratic of the three— the pair uses just breath and imagination to craft articulate expressions of sponta- neous communication. One hears how Perelman’s study of bel canto has paid off: His control of each declarative phrase is su- perb, as he integrates aesthetic elements culled from the classical repertoire. Ordering info: As the pandemic stretches on, Perel- man has begun to think about returning to Brooklyn. He’s eager to get back into the studio and apply recent breakthroughs in his daily practice to improvising. In fact, he’s hoping to rerecord some or all of his existing discography with the same per- sonnel, simply to see how his playing has changed. It’s a wild idea, he admits, but likely to happen. “Somehow, I always end up doing things that sound impossible,” he figured.  DB


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