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Monday, April 1, 2019

Ivo Perelman - Strings 4 (Leo, 2019) ****

By Sammy Stein

On Strings 4 Ivo Perelman teams up with his long-time collaborators Matthew Shipp on piano and Mat Maneri on viola, with Nate Wooley on trumpet to produce something quite beautiful in terms of the imaginative musical pictures which Perelman creates, managing to transpose pictures and imagery in his mind to music.

Track 1 opens gently with piano playing light melody over the trumpet elongated noted and sax riffs before the piano notes turn into chords and the sharpness of the trumpet offers contrast and texture. The sax and roughly hewn viola notes add to the layers of deeply engrained knots to the music rather like a piece of careful worked oakwood. Track 2 is more discursive with sax and viola opening, piano and viola then echoing each other briefly before the trumpet also adds its voice. All instruments then interface, with some quite entrancing piano string work adding to the mix. Track 3 is structured and timed initially before the structure and times are contracted, expanded and even the key is within a micro-millimetre of losing its way - gorgeous. The final section is absolutely worth waiting for. Track 4 is where Nate Wooley proves the worth of a trumpet in this musical melding of minds. Perfectly placed, rapid-fingered timing and wonderfully worked note runs make this interesting and a track of fun. Track 5 is a lesson in improvised interactions but track 6 is standout with its play on melodic lines, interspersed with harmonics which only just work, yet that very precariousness makes it sharp on the ears but also an absolute joy to hear, especially when Perelman takes aim at a note and eventually reaches it by ascending or descending through the key in a warp of arcing sound, reaching his intended note eventually. At times his sound is almost akin to double tonguing, so voice-like does he make his sax. Tracks 7 and 8 are fun, furious and at times mind-blowingly fast.. immediately contrasted with a slow elongation of sound and the final track is that mix of Shipp's intricate delicacy over Perelman's wondering melodic chants before Shipp himself produces chordal progressions which the other follow, piano leading sax, leading viola. The final section with piano providing a bass reference over which the others float before everyone gently soars is simple beauty incarnate.

There is a sense of wonder whenever Perelman instigates and also a sense of what next? Here he has the orchestral opportunities in the percussion of the piano, strings of the viola, brass of the trumpet and wood of the sax yet it is so absolutely improvisational music it shows just what might be done with a massive ensemble. But wait, not yet. For now we enjoy Perelman bringing it together, inspiring the experimenting, keeping pushing and using his alter ego which his sax is to create soundscapes which have nothing to do with solo players or larger orchestration - they are simply Perelman and company.

Personnel: Ivo Perelman - Tenor sax
Mat Maneri - viola
Nate Wooley - trumpet
Matthew Shipp - piano