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Monday, October 23, 2023

Ivo Perelman and Matt Moran - Tuning Forks (Ibeji, 2023)

By Sammy Stein

Saxophonist Ivo Perelman and vibraphonist Matt Moran have released Tuning Forks on Perelman’s Ibeji label. The label previously released Soccer Land and Tapebas Songs in the 90s and Perelman rescued the label so he can periodically launch special projects of his.

Tuning Forks came about after Perelman spent time studying tuning forks. It is typical of Perelman that after embroiling himself in the study of an area, he creates music around it. A familiar musicians’ tool, Perelman has studied tuning forks’ therapeutic and acoustic values and created an album exploring the myriad of ways in which sounds can be created, blended, and developed.

From the outset, Perelman takes a different stance with his saxophone on this recording.

The slap tongue has largely vanished and altissimo, while it periodically appears, is reserved only for capacious room in the music which the vibes leave open for Perelman to explore such as in ‘Schumann’, the fourth track on the album.

Rich harmonies are developed between saxophone and vibraphone with melodic inclusion – largely because Perelman is playing alongside a vibes master who produces echoing, sostenuto notes and chords from the vibes and their echoing sostenuto calls for responses that are more flowing and melodic than Perelman might otherwise deliver. Perelman demonstrates his versatility and continuing ability to surprise as his sax has a different timbre from the fiery delivery on many of his previous releases and vibration appears to be a key element throughout the recording.

The track names give clues about the origins of some of the ideas. All tracks bar the final one are named after theories involving patterns and rhythms. ‘Gregorian’ (repeated time periods), ‘Pythagorean’ (Pythagoras scholars arranged notes and numbers in patterns), ‘Tesla’, (unit of magnetic flux density), ‘Schumann’ (a magnetic resonance) ‘Fibonacci’ (a series of numerical sequences) and the track that bucks the trend ‘Rife’ (in an unchecked manner).

Perelman describes his approach as “You will hear a different timbre from my sax, penetrating and with richer harmonic sounds resulting from a vibrational hyper-absorption recently provided by these studies (of tuning forks). The vibraphone and the way Matt Moran plays it is very similar to what tuning forks provide.”

This recording is a different offering from Perelman and Moran’s expertise on vibraphone is allowed to flow out and through Perelman’s sonic bursts.

From the mellow delivery of ‘Pythagorean’ and the repeated motif of ‘Gregorian’ to the free-flowing interactions on ‘Rife’ Perelman and Moran react to each other in a gentle and almost reserved manner.

The vibe effect on Perelman is clear, with increased lower register content and a tempered, calmer style of playing that allows the vibes to be heard, and, while largely in a supportive role, Moran is allowed to demonstrate his vibe skills with regular solo spots. Not once on this recording does Perelman fly off at a tangent and develop his hyper-energetic response to a fellow musician so familiar with his playing style. Yet that is not a bad thing because we see a mellower, more melodic style of playing – at one point Perelman strays onto the blues side of the street and it is an opportunity to hear this additional part of his playing skill set. Even on ‘Rife’ with its freer style and allowance for deviation – which Perelman takes with relish as he wavers around the vibe chords – the sax player is somewhat controlled and measured.

A welcome additional ingredient to the treasure trove of styles that Perelman can deliver.