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Ivo Perelman/Matthew Shipp - Fruition (ESP-Disk’)/Ivo Perelman et al/Reed Rapture in Brooklyn (Mahakala Music)

28 October 2022

Saxophonist Ivo Perelman is one of the most prolific players in music, any music. Not only does he record frequently, but the results are often multi-disk sets. This very week, the Brooklyn jazz artist has two new albums: the single disk Fruition, a set of duets with his longtime musical companion Matthew Shipp, and the twelve-disk Reed Rapture in Brooklyn, featuring a who’s who of the best saxophonists of the last few decades.

Perelman’s partnership with Shipp goes back to the 1996 album Cama De Terra, which inaugurated a series of collaborations, usually duos, that have proven to be one of the steadiest in all of jazz. At this point, it sounds like the pair communicates via raised eyebrows and barely noticeable gestures, such is their improvisational chemistry. The pair makes up eleven tracks in what sounds like as long as it takes to listen to them, and these are hardly chaotic blasts – each cut sounds like a fully formed composition, backboned by Shipp’s idiosyncratic but tuneful comping and headlined by Perelman’s sinuous lines. There’s discordance and chaos, but there’s also – indeed, mostly – enrichment and beauty as well. Put these two old friends in front of their mics and let ‘em fly, and the result is a master class in the art of spontaneous composition.

Reed Rapture in Brooklyn takes that concept and cranks it past eleven. The list of Perelman’s duet partners here should make sax fiends drool: Joe Lovano, David Liebman, James Carter, David Murray, Roscoe Mitchell, Tim Berne, Jon Irabagon, Colin Stetson, Joe McPhee, Ken Vandermark, Vinny Golia and Lotte Anker. Each disk pairs Perelman off with one of these reed masters, and the two goes to town. To say it’s a lot is an understatement – twelve disks of often incredibly challenging music is a great deal to take in, even in several sittings. But if jazz is all about self-expression, here’s an example at its most unadulterated – a gang of musicians in love with the sound of their instrument, especially in the hands of their peers, and reveling in the glorious sonic waves they can produce together. Love it for its audacity and its purity of spirit, or avoid it due to its sheer volume, but you have to respect it as music as its most real.

Conveying music as honest self-expression is Perelman’s mission in life. Once again, mission accomplished.