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Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Ivo Perelman & Nate Wooley - Polarity 2 (Burning Ambulance, 2023)

By Don Phipps

The second installment of duets by tenor saxman Ivo Perelman and trumpeter Nate Wooley, aptly named Polarity 2 (the first being the 2021 Polarity), shows both masters in excellent form on seven spontaneous compositions. Perelman, long a workhorse on the free jazz scene, demonstrates his expressive control of the reed, with biting cat-like meows and full-throated tenor notes. Wooley too creates bubbles and chortles with his trumpet – muted or unmuted, and the precision he brings is remarkable. The result – an adventure within an adventure where each piece covers new ground, a journey of inventive squeals, rumbles, floating lines, and flowering drawls.

Take the second piece, “Two,” where Perelman throttles his reed and pinches squeaks out of his woodwind while Wooley adds his best Lester Bowie-like whines and cries. The third piece, “Three,” is the longest on the album, and displays plenty of virtuosity. Listen to how Perelman controls his breathing in the lower register to earthy effect. And the way the two musicians blend odd harmonic voicings together in a low orbit dialog. About midway through the number, Wooley, followed by Perelman, generate runs like a mad dash toward some distant finish line. Perelman then transitions to a long-pinched note that creates a totally different yet highly creative tangent.

“Four” has Perelman voicing (scat) while Wooley slides and glides all around him. Wooley’s rapid flutter-tonguing is a true highlight of this number and Perelman squeezes the reed hard in response. Later, there’s a drunk call and response that suggests a late-night departure from one’s local dive.

On “Six,” one can hear the purity of Wooley’s tone, how there’s a glow and hue to it, like a gemstone on display. At the end, the piece evolves into a whirling dance. Both musicians never miss – their notes, intonation, and skill blend perfectly.

As Perelman writes on his Facebook: “The seven untitled duets (on Polarity 2) highlight the immediate, intimate, and deeply communicative rapport…” between the two musicians, and the “duets blur the distinction between spontaneous improvisations and instant compositions.”

One wonders just how this is accomplished with such a high degree of skill and synchronicity? Is it hours and hours of practice, pure dedication, or some kind of innate talent that drives them to achieve what to any common person might seem like an impossible climb of some towering mountain? Let’s hope Perelman and Wooley continue these climbs forever!

Polarity 2 can be purchased via Bandcamp

See also Sammy Stein's review of Polarity 2 here