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Sunday, July 9, 2017

The Art of Perelman-Shipp (Leo Records, 2017) – Part Two

By Tom Burris

Volume 5: Reah (Parts 1-7)  ****

Ivo Perelman – tenor saxophone
Matthew Shipp – piano
Michael Bisio – bass
Whit Dickey – drums

Reah finds us back with the Pandora Ware group, minus Parker, plus Bisio.  Perelman gets an early melodic find and begins to explore his discovery above the band, which is cooking.  The dynamic changes fairly often from this point, however, with an early Perelman-Shipp lockdown and a Shipp break a couple of minutes later.  The band continues to support Perelman as a single engine, pushing him onto even greater heights than before.

The blueprint was laid out early, as Perelman continues to set up the band with a melodic structure early in a piece, then let's them start chiseling away at it – or lifting it.  On Part 3, Perelman enters after a sharp Shipp solo with such strong lines the band rallies behind him with extra verve.  Perelman likes to blur his lines at times, which comes off particular well when he quotes Wayne Shorter on Part 2.  During this section, the band is tentative – except Shipp, who drops a fist on the lowest octave of the keyboard a few times.  Is he goading Perelman on or kicking his ass?  Hard to say, but it works.

I love the sequencing of the tracks on this disc.  There are also some pretty visual moments here as well – such as Part 6, which sounds like an intense Hitchcock murder scene.  A melodramatic intensity follows, conjuring up silent film imagery.  This is followed by Part 7, in which the band compose a convincing ballad in real time.  It wouldn't have surprised me to hear a raspy “How's that, Teo?” at the end.

Volume 6: Saturn (Parts 1-10)  *****

Ivo Perelman – tenor saxophone
Matthew Shipp – piano

The sound of these two masters weaving around each other in a duo setting, as many of you already know, is stunning.  I can't imagine having to fill the shoes of Parker, Bisio or Dickey when the bond between Shipp and Perelman is so tight.  You definitely gain a new appreciation for those guys almost as soon as you fire this disc up.  There are tons of examples of their duo magic on this set of improvisations, but the first one that I had to play back again was near the end of Part 3 where Shipp moves from major to minor chords and back again to match exactly what Perelman is feeling.

So much of what happens on this disc feels already composed that it's difficult not to be dazzled by the rapport between them.  There is a weaving that takes place, sometimes with them staying near the same register, sometimes with one moving the notation upward as the other one moves down.  Both men have a naturally angular approach to melody, which I think is key to understanding their telepathic methods – but beyond this it's fairly mystifying.  Another example:  At the end of Part 6, Perelman makes a sudden move toward balladry.  Shipp meets the last note with the perfect chord, then adding a couple more which he repeats.  Perelman seems to have assumed this would happen, so perfectly is his melodic accompaniment.

My notes for this album are ridiculous enough to quote.  “Perelman found an injured animal.  Where does Shipp find these chords?!?  Wow!”  Then for Part 8 they finally say “More intuitive genius.  Yawn.”  So yeah, I know you get tired of reading about it.  But truth is truth.  This thing is damn near Perfect.  Yeah, capital P.

Volume 7: Dione (Parts 1-8)  ****1/2

Ivo Perelman – tenor saxophone
Matthew Shipp – piano
Andrew Cyrille – drums

Free Jazz legend Cyrille opens this disc solo for the first minute and 20 seconds.  When Perelman and Shipp enter, Cyrille makes the music larger – not necessarily louder, but more amplified and balanced.  It's an interesting approach that is also his main contribution to this session.  Strap in.

Part 2 finds Cyrille in an extremely subtle mode, pushing gently against Perelman and Shipp.  Again, the nuances of Perelman-Shipp are amplified by Cyrille's participation.  He pushes against the duo in a way that isn't the least bit intrusive, steering them gently as they move.  The more I listen to Dione, the more I believe it's Cyrille's ability to hear Perelman-Shipp properly, rather than what he plays with them, that is the secret to his approach.

There are failed experiments along the way, of course.  On Part 6, Shipp & Cyrille join forces briefly in an attempt to guide Perelman in another direction.  They are met with resistance and the maneuver comes to an abrupt halt.  Perelman then swoops down on Shipp and Cyrille slides back in the driver's seat.  This is the pattern for those rare moments in general.

Shipp gets inside the piano for a few plucks on Part 7.  A gentle storm brews slowly until a little rain appears.  Not even a storm – but one of those peaceful summer rains where you can hear every drop and rumble.  Subtle, but amplified.  Andrew Cyrille is a poet of percussion.