Click here to [close]

Monday, March 6, 2023

Ivo Perelman - Molten Gold (Fundacja Słuchaj, 2023)

 By Sammy Stein

Ivo Perelman is prolific and works with some of the most illustrious musicians. Usually, in duo or trios, Perelman delivers sax lines like they were visual and physical entities – which, to Perelman, they are, as he has the unusual ability to see music in colour tones – not quite in the physical sense, but near enough – which is what gives his music quality. Like just one or two other players I can think of, Perelman almost creates visual art through his music.

Here on Molten Gold Perelman is with Joe Morris on bass, trombonist Ray Anderson and drummer Reggie Nicholson. A 2 CD set, with two tracks per CD, the four tracks each have their own character and are linked by the intuitions of the musicians and the stealth of Perelman to blend and merge between the sounds like a sleek leopard, constantly altering his tone and intonation to accommodate the players with whom he is interacting.

Perelman told me, “For this recording, I've been experimenting with different ligatures, reeds, and mouthpieces. On Molten Gold I used a setup that really plays well for me. I got a consistent tone throughout the register, great articulation, and a new "woody " tone that pleased me a great deal.”

On Molten Gold, Perelman has achieved a sound that is different, and it is smoother in many places than on many recordings. Whether that is due to his honed setup or whether Perelman is simply intuitively reacting to the musicians he has teamed with matters not one iota. As on each recording, Perelman retains his distinctive style but his playing is tilted and influenced by the musicians he collaborates with.

The album has such a lot to hold the listener’s attention – on ‘Aqua Regia’ the bass opening is followed with all the musicians tracking their own path, yet the key, tempos, and changes are so intricately linked to those around that the lines seem to flow in flux. The sax and bass arise out of the music in a delicate diversion before re-joining the main path where all four musicians remain connected.

‘Liquid’ opens with warping trombone muttering under the bass and drums before Perelman instigates some well-honed counter-intuitive notes and rhythms, forcing a change of rhythm. He almost purrs over the bass, which now comes forth with its own growling melodic section. ‘Warming Up’ has a grandiose opening with creative, drum rolls, with the bass subtly in the background before the sax and trombone flutter around each other, bouncing riffs and musical ideas off each other, Perelman flying crazily around the five-minute mark, Anderson reacting with a stream of riffs, re-taking the initiative and now Perelman follows. Drum and bass fall away at one point, leaving Perelman and Anderson in quirky conversation which drives toward the edge of cohesion once the bass and drums re-enter with Perelman seeking the edge of the altissimo range and damn near finding it.

This CD set proves, if that were necessary, that when you put four outstanding improvises together you are going to get improvised music that feels like it was created for them. There is no lead, and no followers but four listeners and musicians who are well-trained enough to lean into each other and know when to surge and when to back off a little. Perelman on occasion does what he does so well – and that is to provide the unifying melodic phrases that serve to link the musicians he is playing with.

Like a good wine that tastes good without you knowing why, it is the secret ingredients that create the overall taste and here, quality abounds. The ingredients of each musician, along with Perelman’s particular flavours, create the perfect blend of character, colour, and taste.

Lines twirl, writhe, and entwine, at times like a nest of vipers in their hidden surprise and energy, at others like lovers, vying for each other’s touch and notice. Emerging finally as a unified entity that has captured many nuances that create outstanding improvised music.


Anonymous said...

' Perelman delivers sax lines like they were visual and physical entities – which, to Perelman, they are, as he has the unusual ability to see music in colour tones – not quite in the physical sense, but near enough...'

does this mean anything?!

Anonymous said...

Maybe not but it is beautiful

Colin Green said...

In answer to the first comment, synesthesia. Some musicians have it, and it may be significant that Perelman is also a painter.

Sammy Stein said...

Thanks Colin. Ivo and I have discussed this and he sees music in colours. Not exactly how we see colours physically but it is hard to explain but when you listen deeply,you can understand. Ivo really liked rhis review so I think my comments are valid.

Paul said...

I think it's an interesting description of synesthesia - we need to reach for different words when the signals cross in such fascinating ways!

Sammy Stein said...

I think sometimes words are just not enough,which is where reviews come in,perhaps inspiring others to listen deep and get what we mean,or even find their own interpretation. It is what improvised music does,in my opinion.

Colin Green said...

Two well-known examples of synesthesia are the composers Berlioz and Scriabin: the former associated certain instruments and combinations with specific colours and the latter notes and keys with colours. Perhaps this explains why they both had a vivid orchestral palette and made use of of unusual chord combinations, giving sonic affect priority over the standard rules of harmony (though admittedly you don’t have to be a synesthete to achieve this).

Reviewers and listeners use similar associations, sometimes as metaphor other times more literally, in describing musical texture, timbre, and contrasts, such as “bright”, “dark”, “colourful”, “sinewy”, “intertwined”, etc. Indeed, the notion of musical shape is familiar to us all. None of this should be surprising given the richness of our visual lives.

Sammy Stein said...


Anonymous said...

i'm familiar with synaesthesia, it was the'not quite in the physical sense, but near enough...' that puzzled me.

Anonymous said...

'Berlioz and Scriabin: the former associated certain instruments and combinations with specific colours'
'associating' isn't synaesthesia, which is when one literally sees colours when one hears sounds

Colin Green said...

I suppose they made the association because that’s how they saw them, some kind of auditory/ocular connection, in their mind’s eye. That’s what I took Sammy’s “not quite in the physical sense, but near enough” to be describing: mental rather than physical colours, external to oneself.

No doubt synesthesia can come in different forms, and admits of degrees. I’m no expert on the subject, but there’s been plenty of discussion about it for well over a century, including not just Berlioz and Scriabin, but Messiaen and the artist Kandinsky, all of whom wrote about the experience and how it manifested itself in their music and painting. Kandinsky’s correspondence with the composer Schönberg, during a seminal period in the development of both, makes for a fascinating read. Also try Schönberg’s “Five Pieces for Orchestra” (1909), in particular the third piece, “Summer Morning by a Lake: Chord-Colours", in which a static, five-note chord is orchestrated in what’s been described as "a kaleidoscopically rotating array of instrumental colours". There’s no development other than through changing timbres, dynamics and register, representing the refractions and reflections of light:

Anonymous said...

Re Kandinsky on this: check out "Sounds" (Yale University Press, 1981), a translation of his "Klänge".