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Monday, February 12, 2024

Ivo Perelman - Interaction (Ibeji, 2024)

By Sammy Stein

Ivo Perelman is prolific and always a willing dare-devil music-wise. The promise in the blurb for this recording was ‘a profound and deeply satisfying experience.’

Perelman is prolific and his many and various works with different musicians in different combinations must surely mean he is on his way to having plumbed the depths of the what and how of playing improvised music. Surely there is little left to bring to the surface? But, as only Perelman can, he surprises yet again – or rather the combination of Perelman on saxophone, bass player Barry Guy, and percussionist Ramon Lopez.

‘Interaction’ (Ibeji) is aptly titled because the musicians communicate and relate in ways that defy expectations, even though those who know Perelman’s continuous output of work already know that ‘expectations’ in music are something Perelman knows little about, preferring to release works that prove he is on a journey of continuum, his voice still developing even after decades, and the musicians he chooses to collaborate with are part of that journey but not the ultimate goal. This was recorded seven years ago in France.

The recording contains some exquisite, masterful phrases, take the early part of the third track (each track, as is Perelman’s oft practiced want, gets a number rather than a title) where the saxophone signs and sighs across the intricate dalliances of bass and percussion, or the beautifully placed bass and throbbing percussion on the sixth track for understanding.

The dynamics are interesting, from Perelman’s cheeky, Punch-like voicings on track seven, to which Ramon replies with some cheeky interpretations of his own, and the use of quiet and space on this recording is engaging. Track seven has almost twelve seconds of (almost) silence) as it ends, for example, and across the recordings, much is made of near-silent episodes that contain whispers of sound. There are also frequent harmonic brushes between the bass and saxophone, as musical pathways cross before diverging.

This recording holds much familiarity from Perelman on tracks, like number eighteen in particular where he transits from free playing to melody and back in the blink of an eye, yet there is also much that is different – and this is typical of Perelman because whoever he plays with, he intuitively leans into the variable tones of their instrument and an understanding of their playing style. There is a sense of equality among the musicians – respect, listening, and waiting for the right place to offer a change of idea, introduce a new direction, and see if anyone follows.

Did the recording meet the promise? Of course, it did. Three musicians, interactive playing, and frequent returns to familiar ground – with added twists to keep the listener engaged. How could this not indeed be a profound and deeply satisfying experience? Perelman once again offers the listener an opportunity to eavesdrop on his continuing journey with improvised music, this time with a little time-travel back seven years – and the journey continues.