Ivo Perelman & Matthew Shipp – Efflorescence Vol. 1 – Leo Records

by | Jan 13, 2021 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Ivo Perelman & Matthew Shipp – Efflorescence Vol. 1 [4 CD] – [TrackList follows] – Leo CD LR 866/867/868/869, 56:25; 45:15; 59:17; 42:19  ****:

(Matthew Shipp – piano; Ivo Perelman – tenor saxophone)

Never say never. That’s the underlying essence of Efflorescence Vol. 1, the four-CD release from pianist Matthew Shipp and tenor saxophonist Ivo Perelman. The two artists taped their first album together—The Art of the Duet—in 2012. Since then, they have played together on more than 25 records, including seven duet outings. In 2018 they issued the three-disc duet project, Oneness. That’s when Perelman indicated that would be the finale. “For now, there’s nothing more to say,” Perelman stated. But good friendships often have a way of continuing despite road bumps or obstacles. Thus, maybe it’s not a surprise Shipp and Perelman are together again with this four-disc set. And yes, volume two (another four-album package) is on the horizon.

Previous Shipp/Perelman efforts have sometimes dispensed with any conceptual nature or compositional titles. What’s the point of naming fully-improvised music which is created in-the-moment? But apparently someone had flowers, plants and other green growing things on their mind. Efflorescence can be defined as the formation of a powdery deposit on the surface of brickwork, rock or other material as a result of loss of moisture on exposure to air; but more importantly, it is a rapid growth or development (the word translates as “to flower out” in French). Quite like how the 3.5 hours of material was shaped by Shipp and Perelman. 

Perelman is well known for pushing past the expected higher saxophone register to manufacture noises and sounds which some might find dissonant, disturbing or difficult to enjoy. Throughout Efflorescence Vol. 1 Perelman deftly balances his very high notes with an unpredicted amount of sax conviviality. So, for every tune which goes higher than the sax is traditionally meant to go (examples: “Rose” from CD 1, “Jacob’s Ladder” from CD 2 or the elevated tonality on “Orchid” on CD 4) there are effectively melodic tracks such as the relatively sympathetic “Cosmos” on CD 1, the genteel and ambient “Lotus” and the nearly lyrical “Tiger Lilly” (both also on CD 1) where Perelman showcases a calmer viewpoint. 

From beginning to end, Shipp is like a guru, suppling ample moments of his virtuoso improvisational agilities and revealing his innate ability to foresee where Perelman may go and heighten or enhance what is transpiring. And the opposite is also true, as Perelman also seems to recognize exactly where Shipp is heading, no matter how esoteric or sphinxlike the pianist might be at any given instant. Sometimes there is intensive conflict and tension, such as during the second disc’s “Hydrangea,” where Perelman commences with a kind of swinging tone while Shipp contributes structured notes and chords, but then Shipp alters course and the piece goes elsewhere. On the third disc, during “Jasmine,” Perelman adds a melodic sax on the outset, but then both artists crash against each other, Perelman’s sax roaring down and up the scales. The music on Efflorescence Vol. 1 is intended to be listened with attention to details, nuances and with total concentration. There is a sense of striving beyond any anticipations or probabilities, of going straight to the edge and looking out to see what’s there. The sheer scope of rhythms, individual and duo imagination, dexterous performance and passion could be off-putting to some, but those who know Shipp and Perelman will understand this is a journey well worth taking.

(CD 1):
Hibiscus; Cosmos; Rose; Lotus; Amaryllis; Zinnia; Iris; Bleeding Heart; Moonflower; Peony; Clematis; Tiger Lilly; Mandevilla; Cape Primrose

(CD 2):
Quince; Columbine; Hydrangea; Jacob’s Ladder; Yellow Bell; Trillium; Nigella; Helenium; Goldenrod; Forsythia; Sage

(CD 3):
Clover; Heather; Sweet Pea; Veronica; Strawflower; Aster; Catmint; Honeysuckle; Impatiens; Globeflower; Jasmine; Sweet William; Nightshade; Lilac

(CD 4):
Snapdragon; Heath; Narcissus; Lupine; Shasta Daisy; Rosilla; Snowdrop; Carnation; Orchid; Tiger Flower

—Doug Simpson


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