Ivo Perelman – Strings 3 and Strings 4 – [TrackList follows] – Leo CD LR 859 and CD LR 860, Strings 3: 52:08; Strings 4 54:57 [both 3/8/19] ****:
Saxophonist Ivo Perelman is a musician who is wide-ranging and ambitious with his ideas. Mixing strings and sax (with or without other instruments) would be something most jazz artists might do once, twice or possibly three times. Perelman plans to issue a dozen volumes in his ongoing Strings series, which pairs Perelman on tenor sax with violist Mat Maneri and a who’s-who of jazz and improvisation musicians. Perelman’s latest entries are the 52-minute Strings 3 (recorded in early 2018) and the 55-minute Strings 4 (taped in summer 2018); both were released on the same day as separate albums in early March 2019.
Both CDs follow Perelman’s template for past and future Strings records. The material is pure spontaneity, with no pre-conceived arrangements or rehearsals, conceived after the record button was clicked. Like previous editions of the Strings undertakings, there are no titles, only track numbers. The 11 tracks on Strings 3 are done as a trio configuration with Maneri, Perelman and trumpeter Nate Wooley (he’s performed with John Zorn, Anthony Braxton, Ken Vandermark, Fred Frith and others). The nine cuts on Strings 4 bring in long-time Perelman collaborator, pianist Matthew Shipp. Both CDs showcase Perelman’s unorthodox timbral saxophone effects, his varied intonations; and his usage of the saxophone’s higher, altissimo range, where Perelman supplies notes above his instrument’s written range, which allows Perelman to stretch his saxophone’s flexibility.
Wooley’s presence was based on Perelman’s impulsive thought of what would happen if he added a brass instrument to the sax/viola balance. At first, Perelman thought the result would be a mini-orchestra san percussion (strings, wood, brass). The outcome, though, proved to be much more due to Wooley’s extended trumpet techniques and comprehensive skills. The nearly eight-minute opener on Strings 3 commences with solo viola, then tenor sax which straightaway presents Perelman’s higher-register notes. And then trumpet comes in. The three contrast with each other and at other times complement each other, which gives the melodic lines a dissonant stance. There are moments when the proceedings become intense but other instances are sensitive and appealing. Tracks two and three have similar aspects. Perelman initiates track three with brief melodic phrases and breathy, whispery tones while Maneri offers unsettling viola sounds which produce short audio sweeps. A rhythmic foray is introduced in the track’s middle section, where viola, sax and trumpet furnish a percussive impact. Wooley is at the forefront on tracks five and six, where his trumpet seizes the moment and abets in taking the music into different directions, sometimes chaotic and other times beautifully anarchic. Strings 3 concludes with the two shortest cuts. Track 10 is a 3:25 invention with lyrical qualities which diverge from meditative to forceful. Track 11 has some rolling sax riffs and a playful rhythm where viola, sax and trumpet crisscross in an almost joyful dialogue by three masterful players.
For Strings 4, Perelman highlights his ability to take his music to new levels. He states, “I’m experimenting with instrument types. I’ve really been experimenting with individuals.” This philosophy is displayed throughout Strings 4, where Perelman, Maneri and Wooley interact with Shipp. Shipp and Perelman have appeared on 40-some records together, thus their association is ever-progressing. While Strings 4 could also have been a mini-orchestra endeavor (since the piano is often a percussive instrument), Shipp engenders an investigational essence to the nine tracks which helps lift the tunes into a dynamic realm. Track one unassumingly advances with a wonderful melody and an organic movement. The strings, trumpet and sax commingle while Shipp shifts into areas apart from the others, which provides an eccentric and wholly riveting characteristic. On some material, Shipp acts as a percussive tool. On others, he is the centerpiece. On track three Shipp, for example, establishes a solemn mood which is followed by the rest, who accentuate the tune’s shaded coloring. During the lengthy, nine-minute fifth track, Shipp unerringly maps out his own course, while the others converge together in a discordant, tripartite exchange. Shipp’s varying routes and chordal fluctuations create an oddly complementary viewpoint against the trumpet, sax and viola interaction. The group’s crescendos are fascinating all through Strings 4. Some notable standouts include the nearly eight-minute track 8, which begins with Maneri’s solo introduction, which is later twinned via Perelman’s tenor in a remarkable echoing approach. Wooley once again travels an alternative itinerary which frequently has a percussive undertow which eventually propels the quartet into a combustible, rhythmic middle section. Shipp’s inclusion on Perelman’s ongoing Strings series is significant. So, it’s unfortunate Strings 4 will be Shipp’s only appearance in this series. This is just the second time Shipp, Perelman, and Maneri have performed together on disc. The first was a soundtrack for the 2013 Brazilian film, A Violent Dose of Anything. Based on what happens during Strings 4, more music from Shipp, Maneri, Wooley and Perelman would be superb.
Strings 3: Ivo Perelman – tenor saxophone, co-producer; Mat Maneri – viola; Nate Wooley – trumpet
Strings 4: Ivo Perelman – tenor saxophone, co-producer; Mat Maneri – viola; Nate Wooley – trumpet; Matthew Shipp – piano