Ivo Perelman & Matthew Shipp, The Stone, Photo by Peter Gannushkin

Ivo Perelman – Matthew Shipp Duo

Cementing a 20-year artistic partnership, the duo of saxophonist Ivo Perelman and pianist Matthew Shipp creates totally improvised music as lyrical as it is audacious. By discarding every conventional foundation of music – written melodies, chord schemes, predetermined tempo or time signature – they  eliminate the boundaries between traditional composition and performance. Perelman’s protean tone fuses extended technique with a purity of passion, complemented by Shipp’s own array of timbral combinations and gradations of attack. On their shared expedition of discovery, they have become the Lewis and Clark of post-freedom music.

Born in 1961 in São Paulo, Brazil, Perelman was a classical guitar prodigy who tried his hand at many other instruments – including cello, clarinet, and trombone – before gravitating to the tenor saxophone. His initial heroes were the cool jazz saxophonists Stan Getz and Paul Desmond. But although these artists’ romantic bent still shapes Perelman’s voluptuous improvisations, it would be hard to find their direct influence in the fiery, galvanic, iconoclastic solos that have become his trademark.

Moving to Boston in 1981, to attend Berklee College of Music, Perelman continued to focus on mainstream masters of the tenor sax, to the exclusion of such pioneering avant-gardists as Albert Ayler, Peter Brötzmann, and John Coltrane (all of whom would later be cited as precedents for Perelman’s own work). He left Berklee after a year or so and moved to Los Angeles, where he studied with vibraphonist Charlie Shoemake, at whose monthly jam sessions Perelman discovered his penchant for post-structure improvisation: “I would go berserk, just playing my own thing,” he has stated.

Emboldened by this approach, Perelman began to research the free-jazz saxists who had come before him. In the early 90s he moved to New York, a far more inviting environment for free-jazz experimentation, where he lives to this day. His discography comprises more than 50 recordings, with a dozen of them appearing since 2010, when he entered a remarkable period of artistic growth – and “intense creative frenzy,” in his words. Many of these trace his rewarding long-term relationships with such other new-jazz visionaries as pianist Matthew Shipp, bassists William Parker, guitarist Joe Morris, and drummer Gerald Cleaver.

Critics have lauded Perelman’s no-holds-barred saxophone style, calling him "one of the great colorists of the tenor sax” (Ed Hazell in the Boston Globe); “tremendously lyrical” (Gary Giddins); and “a leather-lunged monster with an expressive rasp, who can rage and spit in violence, yet still leave you feeling heartbroken” (The Wire). Since 2011, he has undertaken an immersive study in the natural trumpet, an instrument popular in the 17th century, before the invention of the valve system used in modern brass instruments; his goal is to achieve even greater control of the tenor saxophone’s altissimo range (of which he is already the world’s most accomplished practitioner).

Perelman is also a prolific and noted visual artist, whose paintings and sketches have been displayed in numerous exhibitions while earning a place in collections around the world.

Matthew Shipp was raised in Wilmington, Delaware, and began playing piano at six years old. His mother was a friend of trumpeter Clifford Brown. He was strongly attracted to jazz, but also played in rock groups while in high school. Shipp attended the University of Delaware for one year, then the New England Conservatory of Music, where he studied with saxophonist/composer Joe Maneri. He has cited private lessons with Dennis Sandole (who also taught saxophonist John Coltrane) as being crucial to his development.

Shipp has been very active since the early 1990s, appearing on dozens of albums as a leader, sideman or producer. He was initially most active in free jazz, but has since branched out, notably exploring music that touches on contemporary classical, hip hop and electronica. At the beginning of his career shipp was stylistically compared to some of his predecessors in the jazz piano pantheon but has since been recognized as a complete stylistic innovator on the piano – with AllMusic referring to his "unique and recognizable style"; and Larry Blumenfeld in Jazziz Magazine referring to Shipp as "stunning in originality". Jazziz Magazine also referred to Shipp's CD 4D as "further proof of his idiosyncratic genius."

Shipp has long been a member of saxophonist David S. Ware's quartet. He has recorded or performed with many musicians, including William Parker, DJ Spooky, Joe Morris, Daniel Carter, Roscoe Mitchell, Mat Maneri, High Priest and Beans of Antipop Consortium, and El-P.

In February 2011, Shipp released a double-disc album entitled Art of the Improviser. This release is "testament to Shipp's achievements, yet it is also a continuation of the discovery in his developmental musical language." The Chicago Tribune called the project "monumental" and "galvanic as ever."

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Ivo Perelman – Matthew Shipp Duo
Complementary Colors (Leo Records, 2015)

On the duo recording Complementary Colors, Perelman and his longtime collaborator, acclaimed pianist Matthew Shipp, explore the ties that bind the visual and the aural arts. In addition to his work as a groundbreaking improviser, exploring the outer limits of the saxophone’s tonal range, Perelman is also a prolific and respected visual artist, whose work hangs in collections across four continents; at the time of these releases, he was in Brazil, overseeing a major exhibit of his paintings and drawings in his native land. But for all that, Complementary Colors represents the first time he has sought to unite these two aspects of his artistic vision. 

Perelman titled each track with the name of a color, which he chose after the recording. As usual in his music, these improvisations arose from literally nothing, with neither previous rehearsal nor any written music in hand; given this methodology, something as programmatic as a color-coded “concept” would be unthinkable. But the titles came naturally, since Perelman – by his own admission – experiences synesthesia, the sensory phenomenon by which some people “hear” colors, “taste” music, or “see” aromas, for instance.  Up till now, this has primarily manifest itself in his canvases. “I paint using musical impulses, translated, and transmuted into the shapes and colors,” he explains. “When I paint, I feel my synesthesia is rhythmic; I visualize a rhythm and it’s very strong in me.” From there, the rest of the painting takes shape: “The rhythmic structure almost dictates what the colors will be; the rhythms in my paintings ask for the colors – ‘This should be a red,’ for instance.” But on Complementary Colors, he applied the process in reverse, allowing the recorded playbacks to dictate the titles, based on the hues and mixtures that came to mind. And apart from any crisscrossed sense or extramusical pigments, the music itself occupies the high plateau achieved by Perelman and Shipp on their previous release, Callas, on which they attained a new level in their already telepathic musical communication. — Leo Records, press release

Recorded in May 2015, two months after the duo’s previous album (Callas, reviewed here by Colin Green), Complementary Colors continues their endlessly fruitful partnership. Like that album, the compositions were titled retroactively. This method of naming is perhaps not uncommon in the world of improvisational music, but in Perelman’s case, the titles seem to be frequently linked by some overarching theme or idea. 

For Callas, he chose the names of various roles that Maria Callas had played throughout her career. For this one, as evidenced by the album’s title, he chose colors that, when mixed together, negate each other to become a grey-scale color like white or black. When placed side-by-side, however, these same colors create a strong contrast; they appear more vibrant and alive. Likewise, the sounds and moods that Perelman and Shipp conjure up are enlivened by the contrasts between them. 

For instance, Shipp’s style is largely romantic; while he does occasionally let loose and tumble wildly over the keys, he is more apt to keep things relaxed and introspective. On the other hand, Perelman is inclined to take unexpected excursions, short jaunts that inevitably end up with the impassioned altissimo wail that has become something of a signature for him. However, he’s equally comfortable with a more conservative approach, offering full-bodied, languorous stretches of notes that suit Shipp well. 

The piece entitled “Blue” is, like the color whose name it shares, cool and crystalline, a self-contained structure carved from ice. Shipp’s chords waft beneath Perelman’s stately intonations like fog, imbuing the whole affair with an ethereal quality. “Red,” on the other hand, finds Shipp in a more playful mode, offering up spry runs and clusters. “Blue and Red” begins with Perelman’s lone saxophone, but Shipp soon joins in and pushes him to exuberant heights. Perelman’s explorations of the dynamic range of his instrument are consistently intriguing, largely because of how listenable they are. He is bold without ever being confrontational or brash. He wanders down circuitous paths, observing, examining, occasionally latching onto short phrases and elaborating them, occasionally abandoning them altogether - but through all of this, he always makes sure to maintain a coherent sense of melody. “Magenta” returns to the solemn refrains of “Blue,” but the passages are even more serpentine and winding, so that it’s difficult to guess where they might end up. By comparison, “Green and Magenta” is more straightforward, with the two employing repetition to give the piece a stuttering, jumpy sense of momentum. Closing the album, “White” is lovely and understated; Shipp’s playing is spacious and elegant, with Perelman making use of a rich vibrato that provides emotional heft to the piece. It’s a wonderful conclusion to a wonderful recording. — Derek Stone, Free Jazz Blog

When a new batch of Ivo Perelman discs are released, yes he releases music from multiple groups on multiple discs, it is always wise to start with his duets with pianist Matthew Shipp. They've collaborated now for over twenty years, in duo, trio, quartet, and quintet settings. Their development of sound, each player's individual sound, has paralleled each other. Both players early works were distinguished by a torrid, blistering sound. One that struck a listener as if they intended to deliver the sum total of their musical thoughts into every session, maybe into every song. 

Decades later, the pair dispatch music with a gained maturity that is ultimately more expressive. Complementary Colors follows their two-disc Callas (Leo, 2015) and The Art Of The Duet Volume One (Leo, 2013). Its theme of colors that complement, might just as well be musicians that complete each other's sentences. 

The ten improvisations, to which Perelman conjured a title post-production, play off of colors first separate "Violet," "Yellow," then together "Violet And Yellow." The concept here employs the saxophonist's synesthesia, or his ability to hear colors. Maybe better explained, the saxophonist is also an accomplished painter, and he has the ability to create a visual work beyond just his sense of sight. 

The pieces here, all instantly composed, travel sans set chords and tempos. The sound fits though, into a logic much like an impromptu conversation between old friends. Shipp's approach maintains an elegance that strives for grace. His fingers opt for a simple refinement of movement that complements the tenor of Perelman. Each piece nudges toward a free expression, but also nourishes a structure. The saxophonist is content to chase lovely miniature thoughts and carefully situate them alongside Shipp's notes. Just as he must lay down paint on canvas. — Mark Corroto, All About Jazz

Il primo incontro su disco fra il sassofonista tenore Ivo Perelman ed il pianista afroamericano Matthew Shipp risale al 1997, un duo dedicato a melodie del folklore brasiliano. Questa loro recente incisione è una libera improvvisazione effettuata in studio in cui i titoli dei singoli brani sono stati dati usando i nomi dei colori. In quanto artista figurativo, è da circa venti anni che il sassofonista brasiliano si dedica anche alla pittura (con un suo stile ispirato all´astrattismo, come si puó vedere nella copertina, un quadro a sua firma) e quindi ha un suo modo di percepire i colori o la musica che può essere a loro collegata. Come sempre quando è lui ad improvvisare qualcosa di positivo, c´è una forte concentrazione ed un flusso di energia che scorre, anche quando la musica si fa più rarefatta senza comunque perdere quell’intensità che soltanto lui sa dare. Il sassofono tenore ha un forte aspetto vocale in tutta la sua estensione, dai bassi sussurrati agli acuti emessi con forza, quando necessari, tutto con una sua logica, con un eloquio ricco di fantasia e creatività che è soltanto suo. Shipp è un alter ego perfetto in tale situazione, perché sa trovare le note giuste per alimentare il dialogo ed un flusso che non troverebbe mai fine se non fosse per il limite materiale del supporto. Ad ogni brano c’e qualcosa di nuovo, un colore nel titolo, certo, e le atmosfere cangianti, calorose, inquiete, irrisolte, un turbine di situazioni (a volte nello stesso brano, come Blue and Red su cui si staglia la forte personalità di un sassofonista che è a ragione tra i maggiori del jazz contemporaneo). — Music Zoom

Ivo Perelman – Matthew Shipp Duo
Callas (2 CD Set) (Leo Records, 2015)

The recordings of the Brazilian tenor saxophonist Ivo Perelman are released regularly, proving that he is an exuberant genius who is still at the peak of his creativity. He has already recorded several albums together with the African American pianist Matthew Shipp with whom he has a symbiotic type of understanding. 

In recent years Perelman has had problems with his larynx because of the way he plays. That’s the reason why he decided to take lessons in breathing techniques from teachers who usually deal with opera singers. It was a connection that proved fruitful for his music and for the sound of his saxophone, which became more vocal, and now often matches the recordings of Maria Callas. The meeting with the world of opera and a singer with soulful dramatic traits has helped the saxophonist find a new way to approach music. 

The works performed are based on the characters of the most famous operas, but obviously there is no recall of those melodies. The two went into the studio, as always, improvising beginning to end, focused on what was in the moment while the music played. However, there are references to the feel of those operas, the pianism of Shipp proves to be ductile; he is a master at creating scenarios in which the tenor saxophone dashes inspired by stories full of pathos. 

The concentration and energy of the two is expressed through imaginative improvisational moments that confirm the great musical culture of both of them and the passion for freedom of expression. Their avant-garde is passionate, full of those emotions that the ‘bel canto’ (beautiful singing) of Callas knew how to evoke. The two CDs are free-flowing to the ear and simplify the contact with the avant-garde, here earthly and sentimental as ever. — Vittorio Lo Conte, Music Zoom

What I particularly like in the music of Shipp and Perelman, it is its bienveillance — there are here, of course, sound explosions and overblown fragments, but the most parts of the music consist of free improvisation with a touch of melancholy and lyricism, and certain elements of contemporary chamber music. I tend to term it "kind free jazz" as compared to that of Albert Ayler, early Pharaoh Sanders, or Peter Brötzmann, without any bad connotations or intentions to anybody. This is very well illustrated in the recent joint recordings of Matthew and Ivo, such as the double CD “Callas”, which I consider to be a true masterpiece. 

Indeed, "Callas" is a concept double album is a clear masterpiece, deserving five stars and more. Perelman and Shipp are here inspired by various opera arias sung by the great soprano, from "Lucia" from "Lucia di Lammermoor" of Giacomo Dionizetti, through Giacomo Puccini's "Tosca", to "Giulia" from "La Vestale" by Gaspare Spontini. I have recently attributed also five stars to the Matthew Shipp - Mateusz Mat Walerian duo "The Uppercut", released by ESP. Obviously it is natural to compare these two albums. For me Mat and Matt record is really exploring new, completely unknown territories, more abstract and expressive, yet controlled. Some critics initially did not understand the importance, the true novelty and the artistic quality of this recording. 

The double album "Callas" belongs unmistakably to Perelman's "kind free jazz" genre, and in comparison is more traditional and more focused on melancholic, sad, reflective and lyrical elements of free improvised music. "The Uppercut" can be then termed a masterpiece of a “kind free improvisation”. Both "Callas" and "The Uppercut", however, belong in my opinion to the best duo albums ever recorded. — Post avant-garde: Un essai d'un essai Work in progress by Maciej Lewenstein

Tenorsaxofonist Ivo Perelman en pianist Matthew Shipp werken reeds zo'n twintig jaar met elkaar samen. Vaak als onderdeel van een groter geheel, maar ook regelmatig als duo. Gevolg van die langdurige samenwerking is dat beide mannen elkaar intussen bijzonder goed aanvoelen en zo in hun volledig geïmproviseerde stukken een zeer hoog niveau weten te behalen. Perelman zegt dan ook over die samenwerking: "You know, if you make a friend, and you keep talking and meeting, and there's always new stuff that you want to share, then it's always invigorating and exciting, and you don't get tired. We have an agreement, that the moment we feel we are stuck and not moving, we will quit. But every new opportunity with him, duo or quartet, is like opening a new window – in that sense that there's a lot more to be discovered." 

Twee van deze nieuwe ramen zijn nu vastgelegd in de vorm van nieuwe cd's. De eerste is getiteld 'Callas' en is te zien als een hommage aan de wereldberoemde sopraan. In 2014 kreeg Perelman problemen met zijn strottenhoofd vanwege zijn wijze van blazen en daarbij behorende ademhaling. Hij besloot te rade te gaan bij operazangers, die vaak hetzelfde probleem hebben, en nam zangles. Dit hielp en bracht hem tevens in aanraking met de aria's van Maria Callas, die hem raakten en inspireerden tot een serie duetten met Shipp, waarbij Perelman achteraf de improvisaties van titels heeft voorzien. Leidraad hierbij was in alle gevallen een aria van Callas. De sfeer die een bepaalde aria bij hem opriep, combineerde hij zo met zijn eigen muziek. 'Mimi', op de eerste schijf van deze dubbel-cd, maakt duidelijk waar we over praten. Mimi is de vrouwelijke hoofdpersoon in de opera 'La Bohème' van Giacomo Puccini en de muze van de kunstschilders. Aan het eind van de opera sterft zij aan tbc. Perelman blaast hier dan ook een ingetogen en zeer delicate partij, met scherpe, hoge noten de pijn hoorbaar makend, terwijl Shipp met gerichte aanslagen de dramatische spanning aanbrengt. In 'Norma', de opera van Vincenzo Bellini, klinkt Perelman vertwijfeld en wanhopig. Zo verklankt hij de stemming van Norma, de vrouwelijke hoofdpersoon in de opera. — Ben Taffijn, Draai Om Je Oren

On Callas, tenor saxophonist Ivo Perelman and pianist Matthew Shipp collaborate on this spontaneous duo performance that depicts the improvised free jazz versions of characters portrayed by operatic diva Maria Callas. Each of the improvised arias from operas such as "La Boheme," "The Barber of Seville," "Norma," "Tosca," "Aida," "Turandot " and others, evoke the operatic sensibilities of Perelman’s brilliance as well as Shipp’s emotional resonance and musical clairvoyance. 

The pair discover the various nuances of each aria and develop them further throughout their improvisations. There is a subtle new vocal sound to Perelman’s saxophonics as he matches Callas’ approach to the low, middle and high registers she so brilliantly sang. The inflections are there, the subtleties, but not the melodies. Shipp’s dark, insistent ostinato supports and propels Perelman’s flights on the opening track titled “Lucia” the heroine’s defiant character from Donizetti’s opera “Lucia di Lammermoor.” On “Magdelina” Perelman channels a plangent yearning as Shipp’s steady, implacable undercurrents reminisce the doomed love of the title character’s fate in “Andrea Chenier.” 

On “Norma” his throaty low notes contrast his brilliant coloratura excursions while on “Mimi” he unveils a tender romantic splendor. Overall, this album is a brilliant emotional breakthrough that comes from a newly discovered understanding and appreciation for some of opera’s greatest arias. Perelman and Shipp’s own superb musicality and artistry deserve more than one listen. Callas is that great. — Sounds Of Timeless Jazz

O saxofonista brasileiro Ivo Perelman iniciou sua parceria com o pianista Matthew Shipp em meados dos anos 1990. Foi nessa época que gravaram pela primeira vez em duo, encontro que resultou no álbum “Bendito of Santa Cruz” (Cadence, 1997). Depois de um longo hiato, eles retomaram as colaborações, que renderam outro disco de piano e sax, “The Art of Duet” (Leo Records, 2013). Agora, a dupla lança um novo título, “Callas”. Registrado em duas sessões, realizadas no primeiro trimestre deste ano, “Callas” mostra que a parceria entre Perelman e Shipp atingiu um nível muito elevado. 

“Callas” é um álbum duplo, com 16 faixas, todas tituladas com nomes de personagens interpretados em algum momento pela homenageada, a soprano Maria Callas. Como contou em entrevista à jazz.pt, o saxofonista passou por problemas de saúde no ano passado, uma lesão na garganta. «Acabei me tratando como se fosse um cantor e, no final, decidi fazer aulas de canto. (...) Enquanto estudava canto, passei a ouvir ópera com maior atenção e acabei me focando no trabalho da Maria Callas. Passei a ouvi-la cantando o tempo todo, surgiu uma inesperada paixão pelo trabalho dela», disse ele. E assim surgiu a ideia de homenagear a cantora em um disco. Nessa empreitada, Shipp não poderia ser parceiro melhor, estando, após gravar mais de dez álbuns com Perelman, em fina sintonia com as ideias do saxofonista. 

Nunca antes o músico havia soado tão lírico como neste novo álbum, com uma delicadeza expressionista que faz de alguns temas peças verdadeiramente comoventes, como “Tosca” e “Mimi”. A paixão repentina de Perelman pela obra de Maria Callas não passa despercebida: mesmo sem querer emular o canto lírico ou embarcar em alguma ária imortalizada pela voz de Callas, o saxofonista encontrou uma forma de expressão que soa melódica como nunca; por vezes, o tenor quase balbucia palavras, cantarola fazendo com que sintamos muito próxima a dramaticidade que permeia as personagens citadas nos títulos das peças – Violetta, Aida, Turandot, Leonora, Medea, Amelia, muitas das clássicas heroínas operísticas são reverenciadas –, em um processo tão coeso que nos leva a esquecer que se trata, na realidade, de improvisação livre, nada de partituras ou roteiros preestabelecidos.  As peças são, de um modo geral, breves, oscilando entre quatro e seis minutos – exceções: a concentrada “Abigaille”, com seus 59 segundos, e “Maddalena”, que se desenvolve de forma mais extensa, superando os oito minutos. O álbum, apesar de duplo, não é longo e poderia ter sido editado em apenas um disco – cada um deles tem cerca de 39 minutos. Mas Perelman preferiu deixar cada uma das duas sessões – uma registrada em 27 de fevereiro e a outra em 15 de março – separadas, como se fossem dois atos de uma ópera. 

Quem buscar a voz mais enérgica e explosiva do saxofonista, talvez se sinta um pouco decepcionado. Mas a ideia por trás de “Callas” era exatamente a de explorar a face mais lírica da parceria sonora desenvolvida com o pianista – e isso foi realizado com maestria. Ainda para este ano, Perelman e Shipp preparam o lançamento de mais um álbum em duo, “Complementary Colors”, também pelo Leo Records. — Fabricio Vieira, www.jazz.pt

Ivo Perelman / Matthew Shipp
The Art of the Duet Vol. 1 (Leo Records LR 665, 2013)

As the title suggests, The Art Of The Duo, Vol. 1 inaugurates a series of recordings (three in all) that feature Perelman and Shipp alone, in the most intimate of musical settings. In three recording sessions over the course of two weeks, the saxophonist and pianist created some 40 pieces out of thin air - all of them completely improvised, with not a note written or discussed beforehand, in keeping with Perelman's preferred modus operandi. In doing so, they discard every conventional foundation of traditional music - chord schemes, predetermined tempo, time signature - and replace them with the adhesive chemistry of pure sound.
Two quite different, possibly incompatible musical personalities?, asks Brian Morton, co-author of the renowned Penguin Guide To Jazz, in one of the liner essays for The Art Of The Duet, Vol. 1. Two men from whom one can only expect an interesting collision of philosophies, the one pulling towards disorder and inclusion, the other tending toward careful winnowing of ideas and selective presentation of only those which work unambiguously? Despite this dichotomy posed by Morton, though, the duo performances attain a rare cohesion. As Morton goes on to say: These are not random explorations. They are not the transcript of a casual and heavily elided 'conversation,' but are instead the culmination of a long and thoughtful association, which has marked a singular path of evolution for both artists.
The brilliant and scholarly saxophonist Dave Liebman, in his own liner essay, remarks on this phenomenon as well, writing that The two communicate at times as one, totally enmeshed in their dialogue with no preset requirements except to be in the moment, to be musical and most of all generous in spirit to each other. Adds veteran music critic Neil Tesser (in the third liner essay), There's nothing ethereal about these duets. Just the opposite: they have structure and purpose that belie the process of completely spontaneous improvisation. Rather than wisps of smoke, they bristle with flesh and bone. Without the slightest programmatic conceit, they present concrete (if unfamiliar) images, crystallized emotions; they exist as sonic sculptures that prove as irreducible as they are indelible.

Ivo Perelman is a storyteller; rather than delivering elaborate plots, he opts for something equally evocative, namely psychophysical impressions and resonances. To achieve a straight-forward and hassle-free effect in his magical illusions, Perelman repeatedly takes relish in portraying at once the arsonist, the fire and everything caught in the flames. His attempts, whether standing back, joining together in ellipses or forming interplay between three or four different forces, are always determined by his impassioned mediumship. It was not by accident that McLuhan borrowed the concept of the “hot”/”cool” jazz dichotomy, a concept that certainly applies to The Art of the Duet (LR 665), the first part of a trilogy with pianist Matthew Shipp. The saxophonist is both ecstatic and inconsolable, brooding and affectionate, a wild bull, the captain of some tiny little boat. Shipp is his Pigafetta, the eager scribe and biographer, scurrying about noting in meticulous detail each strand of spaghetti that Pantagruel devours or spits out. Concerning contrast, tension and complementarity, reciprocal if not interchangeable, this makes absolute sense and is a testament to Shipp's mental prowess, and perhaps also to his temperament; he is more strongly inclined to sobriety, intricacy and balance than is his effervescent partner, who knows hot, shit-hot and shit-cold, but not cool. Both have been searching and have finally found one another. The way Shipp rings it all out, gloomy and cool, reveals a unique poetry. — Rigobert Dittmann (Bad Alchemy)

It was only about a year ago when we last apprised a new album by the restless improvisational saxophonist from Sao Paulo, Ivo Perelman. Since that time, Perelman had put out another three albums, all trio records. The Gift, The Clairvoyant and Living Jelly appeared later in 2012, the former a meeting of Perelman with Joe Morris and Gerald Cleaver, and the latter two, Perlman with different combinations of Matthew Shipp’s own trio. And in early April, 2013, Perelman will unveil yet another trio of new albums.

Perhaps it’s high time we’ve checked on him again.

It’s clear that Ivo Perelman is an out-jazz music makin’ machine, and lately he’s been scratching that itch to make music even more than normal. It’s his modus operandi to collaborate with only the best and brightest figures in improvised music, and these latest improvisational sessions invariably include members of Shipp’s trio again as well as Cleaver and William Parker. But of this latest batch, the one that caught my attention first were his improvised duets with Shipp.

The Art Of The Duet, Volume One, as this encounter is titled, brought me back to a duet record Shipp did with Darius Jones called Cosmic Lieder, one that where the deeper I dug into to it, the more I appreciated the musical genius of both and their ability to create on the spot as each was processing what the other just played. The one-on-one setting meant that neither was leading nor accompanying, but co-creating, which in that way presents a unique set of challenges. They passed the test with flying colors, so it was going to be interesting to hear how Shipp adjusts to doing the same with Perelman.

Shipp was a superb listener and showed impeccable instincts when inventing on the spot with Jones, and so he does for Perelman. The Art Of The Duet, Volume One is thirteen pieces selected out of forty performed with zero forethought running at bite sized lengths. Reduced down to one or two ideas at a time, these vignettes are easy to digest. Visceral not ethereal, they’re no bad notes, even when accounting for the maxim that there are no such things as bad notes in out-jazz.

Perelman can alternately sound sweet and harsh but is entirely himself in both instances. Shipp is a logical extension of Monk going further into the avant garde (echoes of Thelonius can be most clearly heard on Duet #09), a refreshing alternative to the legions of free jazz pianists aping Cecil Taylor. Together, you have two guys who are very responsive to each other; thoughts and ideas never sound forced as they patiently let them come by naturally, and ending each performance before they begin to lose their freshness.

Typically these improvised pieces find footing when Shipp sets the table, Perelman dishes out the courses and both adjust around each other accordingly. Duet #01, for example, finds Shipp setting the rhythmic pattern in a staccato manner, as Perelman expresses himself mostly in legato, but eventually comes around and fills in the gaps between the notes left behind by Shipp who becomes more strident to match the saxophonist’s energy. Duet #04 is another example of the close meshing between them: Shipp sets a slow pace but Perelman ratchets it up with chirpy, high flutters. Soon, both are scurrying through notes together and when Perelman chops up his notes, Shipp quickly responds in kind.

One of Perelman’s trademarks is his reaching at both the extreme ends of his horn, and that wide range is explored on Duet #02, Duet #05 and Duet #12. Other times, he plays with a heavy dose of sentiment which is noticeable on improvisations such as Duet #03 and Duet #07. Though the songs take on a very fluid, nearly shapeless form, the two will occasionally stumble into definable figures, such as the ones that constitute Duet #11.

Ending with a thoughtfully constructed Shipp solo piano piece, The Art Of The Duet, Volume One is an album with a title that should only be applied to a get-together of those capable of applying art at the highest level. You would expect no less than that from artists the caliber of Ivo Perelman and Matthew Shipp, and those expectations are easily met. — S Víctor Aaron (Something Else! Review)

Tenor saxophonist Ivo Perelman and pianist Matthew Shipp have a simpatico musical relationship like few others. Perelman is in the midst of an extraordinary run of very high quality albums and many of them feature Shipp. On this album, their duality is especially poignant, pair of old friends that can immediately react to the emotions of the other and instinctively react to challenge, comfort or inspire their partner. Both Perelman and Shipp use the entire range of their respective instruments and this allows them a wide variety of sounds and moods to enrich their improvisations. There is a spontaneity that shows the musicians working without preconceived notions on thirteen freely improvised miniatures. Silence is often the third member of the group as they use open space to highlight their ideas and are comfortable enough with a shared silence that they do not feel the need to clutter the music unnecessarily. They communicate in a very meaningful fashion, from harsh and grating to soft, contemplative and subtle. This was a very well done album of music that ebbs and flows in a very personal fashion and leaves the listener with the feeling of having listened to a private and personal conversation between two musicians that have a keep kinship. — Tim Niland (Music and More)

We hear the word "deconstructed" or "organic" to the point that all meaning is lost.. Well, all true meaning. Ivo Perelman takes self examination to the next level. One of the few tenor players that can touch your heart and set your hair on fire all at the same time, Perelman has deconstructed his music to see just how the moving parts work. Be it hard bop, chamber jazz or or straight ahead jazz, Perelman possesses the versatility sought after by so many yet achieved by so few.

The Art of the Duo was released on April 3rd 2013 finding Perelman breaking his sound down to an even deep level thanks to the help of pianists Matthew Shipp. Since 1951, Perelman has released some 51 recordings as a leader, about twice that of the lifetime of most musicians of note.
The Art of the Duet Volume One is as indicates, the first of a three volume set where Perelman and Shipp and pulling rabbits out of hats or in this case musical phrasing where there was previously nothing before. In keep with the Perelman theory of spontaneous improvisation, there was no rehearsal time, no run through, no predetermined time signatures of any kind. This is the true art of deconstructed music. Not the music, but the journey you take when listening.

Yin vs. Yang, the dichotomy of sound as one pushes the other pulls for a deceptively subtle artful cohesion that brings the listener into the mix but not by random explorations but instead a delightful cohesion of linear thought processes and where they may lead. — Brent Black (Bop-N-Jazz)

Brazilian tenor saxophonist Ivo Perelman’s long standing cooperation with Afro-American pianist Matthew Shipp was reported in a record during 1997 where both were exploring some Brazilian melodies. That was just one of their meetings, although accompanied by other musicians; in fact, a musical friendship which has continued for a long time, reaching this latest recording, where they work again as a duo. They know each other very well and only met in a recording studio with the idea of switching on the microphones to listen, see if anything interesting would happen and report it. The record was successful and also their well-known colleague Dave Liebman liked it, as he also has his say in the cover notes. Shipp’s somehow Monkian pianism (e.g. Duet # 09) really works with a saxophonist who explore all possibilities on his instrument, full of fantasy and inventiveness, passion and instrumental technique. Obviously, their own free connected musical expressions can’t miss here, and still it would be degrading to attribute this kind of language to the record. They both share a sound empathy which avoids any classifications, their music gets to be listened to and communicates, speaks; the two of them mutually listen to each other in real time and always come up with something new in any passage, until finishing it, when the tension loosens. Nothing is taken for granted nor already heard. The meeting between them just works and transmits that sense of surprise which is the essence of improvised music. — Vittorio Lo Conte

Ivo Perelman e Matthew Shipp pertencem à mesma geração. Ambos começaram a carreira nos anos 1980 e ganharam notoriedade na década seguinte. Em janeiro de 1996, uniram forças pela primeira vez; entraram em estúdio e gravaram Bendito of Santa Cruz, em duo de sax tenor e piano. O disco fazia parte da primeira fase da obra de Perelman, na qual o músico buscava criar um elo entre o free jazz e sonoridades brasileiras. Alguns meses depois, voltaram a estúdio, desta vez em trio reforçado pela presença do baixista William Parker, e gravaram Cama de Terra. Shipp ainda aparece nos créditos de algumas faixas de Aquarela do Brasil (1998), mas trata-se de sobras do registro de 96. Após esses encontros, Perelman e Shipp se afastaram, voltando a se encontrar somente em meados de 2010, quando gravaram The Hour of the Star. Desde então, Shipp atuou em diferentes discos recentes do saxofonista (The Foreign Legion, The Clairvoyant, The Gift). Até que, no ano passado, decidiram reeditar o formato duo que haviam experimentado cerca de quinze anos antes.
Em duas sessões realizadas em setembro de 2012, os músicos gravaram umas duas dezenas de temas de sax e piano. A primeira parte desse encontro foi reunida no álbum The Art of the Duet – Volume One, que acaba de ser lançado e que terá outros dois volumes, a serem editados nos próximos meses. Shipp sempre teve no “duo de sax e piano” um de seus formatos prediletos. Basta ver o número de saxofonistas com quem registrou duetos: Roscoe Mitchell, Rob Browm, Darius Jones, John Butcher e Evan Parker. Já Perelman gravou em duo apenas com um outro pianista, Borah Bergman (1933-2012), o disco Geometry (1997). Curioso notar que o piano meio que havia sumido da rota de Perelman, que ficou quase uma década, entre 2001 e 2010, sem gravar acompanhado do instrumento. The Art of the Duet é um trabalho de diálogos, em que os instrumentistas interagem de forma orgânica, demonstrando admirável intimidade expressiva, sem entraves ou desequilíbrios. Não se trata de um espaço para solos egoísticos: a interação entre sax e piano é o que conduz o encontro. O que se vê é um embate saudável, entre parceiros, um debate de ideias sem arestas, que se complementam. E a variedade de resultados é ampla. Há o lirismo incontido de Duet #3 (as faixas são nomeadas como ‘duet’ seguido de um número), no qual o toque satieneano de Shipp cria um traçado horizontal sobre o qual o sax tenor divaga com vagar. Há a fantástica Duet #6, em que o piano demarca uma minimalista e vibrante pulsação à qual o sax responde de pronto e incisivamente, ora em sintonia de rumo, ora em ataque direto, ora passando ao largo e desaguando em ácidos trinados. A abstração total demarca a fraturada Duet #10. E, para encerrar o álbum de maneira tocante, Duet #13, que é, na realidade, uma breve peça solística de Shipp, um belíssimo melancólico epílogo (à melhor maneira ‘Matthew Shipp solo’) que nos convida a ficar de prontidão para ouvir os próximos capítulos desse The Art of the Duet. — Fabricio Vieira

It was quite a while ago that Ivo Perelman on Leo Records Part 1 was posted and it's only appropriate that part two would follow, if only now. Ivo Perelman released fifteen albums (as far as I know) since 2010, ten of which within the last year and a half on Leo Records. All of which are easily recommended I might add, some of which have already been presented here (Stream of Life duo with Brian Wilson, Hour of the Star by the quartet with Matthew Shipp, Joe Morris and Gerald Cleaver as well as the two albums in trio with Joe Morris and Gerald Cleaver).
The albums tribute works of a brasilian writer Clarice Lispector which creates a common narrative thread between each release. The second crucial element of the series is the musicians pool, that consists in only few of artists' long-time collaborators with whom Perelman, as it seems, decided to play in every possible line-up. The recordings feature Matthew Shipp, Joe Morris, Michael Bisio, William Parker, Gerald Cleaver and Whit Dickey in a various duo, trio or quartet configurations
As it would probably be excessive to try to present the entire voluminous output, the consistent excellency of the performances released makes it incredibly hard to make a definite selection. On a different day I might choose otherwise but at the moment I believe the albums that I'll present this week deserve a special recognition within the series.

Ivo Perelman and Matthew Shipp have already recorded a duo cd, back in 1996. Bendito of Santa Cruz (Cadence Records) is a strong example of Perelman's early attampts at reinterpreting brasilian folk music within the fiery avant-free jazz context.

The musical connection was reignited as the two met again in the recent years. Ever since Shipp became one of the key figures in the most of Perelman's successive projects, result of which are well documented on Leo Records label (to begin with the excellent Hour of the Star). A duo album seemed like a logical continuation of the trend but the fact the cd at hand is only the first of three-volumes series proves even more clearly how the two artists appreciate and enjoy playing together.

Both musicians are very different in their personal expression. Perelman's vibrant and exuberant tenor is somehow mitigated by Shipp's majestic and dark piano, although any yin-yang interpretations would be an unnecessary symplification of the art they create. The music displays musicians' profound understanding of the moment, complete dedication to the music and artistic integrity. No cheap trickstery is used.

Volume one presents 13 untitled duets, short forms, compact and daring in the execution, rich in expression and imagination. A compelling album and very unique possibility to look into the chemistry of Ivo Perelman's and Matthew Shipp musical relationship which stands among the most rewarding of the contemporary improvising scene. — Jazz Alchemist

The Gift is on high level, and especially rise in the final part of the CD, introduced by Shipp’s dry lyricism, to the suspended Without Any Warning, when the double bass with the bow opens wide space to the music, to the conclusive Enlistment, splendid tenor sax solo , where Perelman’s great sound display the legacy of Hawkins, Webster and Rollins.  All About Jazz

The lively and winding interweaving of the sax within the musical foundation constructed by pianist Matt Shipp produces fascinating results. Culture Jazz

Perelman is both ecstatic and inconsolable, brooding and affectionate, a wild bull.. Shipp rings it all out, gloomy and cool, revealing a unique poetry.. Both have been searching and have finally found one another. ― Bad Alchemy

(...) refined, solemn, improvised music for connoisseurs.. what a true duet is all about. ― Jazzflits

A musical relationship which stands among the most rewarding of the contemporary improvising scene.. The music displays the musicians' profound understanding of the moment, complete dedication to the music and artistic integrity. ― Jazz Alchemist

The Art of the Duet, Volume One immediately impress us not only with verve, which is self-evident from the way the two musicians play off one-another, but also with their intriguing inventions, surprising, deviating, multi-faceted, something between torrents and caresses. ― His Voice

Shipp’s somehow Monkian pianism works really well with Perelman exploring all possibilities on his instrument, full of fantasy and inventiveness, passion and instrumental technique. ― Vittorio Lo Conte (Music Zoom)

Over the last two years no one has produced more top flight music than Perelman.. the duets here are clear and sparkling, both sides coherent and connected. ― Tom Hull
(...) expressionist flashes of genius are dished out in the title-track, where Shipp and Perelman (in top form) are launching tender and tormented notes all the time. ― Percorsi Musicali

The long dating relationship between tenor saxophone Ivo Perelman and Leo Records, which has flourished ever since with about twenty releases, boasts today of three new albums. A recurring presence, Matthew Shipp on the piano gives life once again to a well established artistic bond. The Art Of The Duet, Volume One, is a pure expression of the duo’s synergy, and reveals the mutual ability of both musicians to delve into each other’s state of mind. Perelman appears to always be on the top of a musical tower, dismantling bits and pieces as he proceeds with his frenzied phrasing, while Shipp follows as close as a shadow, at times anticipating his moves. A frantic action indulging in little or no rest, almost as a race against time requiring energy and concentration, that gives rise to a vibrant and invigorating music, tensed, jittery, yet free of any unnecessary aggressiveness. ― Piercarlo Poggio, Improv

Technically, the combination of two superlative New York-based musicians, The Brazilian tenor saxophonist Ivo Perelman and American pianist Matthew Shipp, was a duo. Yet at several juncture during an absorbing session the pair conspired, especially if the audience deigned to close its eyes, to become a whole that was much greater than the sum of its parts. If the smaller-is-bigger alchemy flowed from both the sheer weight and heft of the sound bursting forth from each side of the stage then it was partly down to the notable anchoring of much of the music in the register, with Shipp’s rangy frame arching tightly into the left side of the keyboard for long periods of time, Perelman sculpted a rock solid tone from the horn that matched the dark, sometimes granite textures produced by his partner, but the whole point was that within the shoulder-like chords and dense legatos there was nonetheless rhythmic and tonal detail that kept the listener alert. Finely attuned to each other after many years of collaboration, the two players often used the most simple of structural features, be it a triplet phrase or a single pitch, as a jumping off point for new chapters of their dialogue, and on several occasions Shipp unveiled blues and boogie sensibilities that were devilishly catchy, despite their skewed construction. Although the likes of Ayler and Coltrane were salient references for Perelman there was also deep romanticism in some of his hazier, evanescent statements that harked back to Webster or even Quebec. Perhaps, more than they have shown on their recent release, The Art Of The Duet Volume One, Perelman and Shipp unveiled a quality of dance quite regularly, which reinforced the samba swirl of the saxophonist lines. But most powerful moments were sometimes the ones when each player moved towards his instrument and then moved away, allowing space for the third band member, silence. ― Concert report, The Vortex by Kevin Legendre, Jazzwise

Some contemporary-jazz groups sound as if they're faithfully wedded to the art of song; some sound as if they've never heard one; and some occupy a borderland in between. Matthew Shipp, the 52-year‑old pianist from Delaware, is an unfailingly engrossing pursuer of the third option. Shipp plays piano with a brawny rolling of his shoulders and incessant shaking of his head, as if he's struggling to wrestle a reluctant lifeform from its innards. At the Vortex, he played in his long-running all-improv duo with the Sao Paulo saxophonist Ivo Perelman, a similarly unorthodox performer whose parallel life as an expressionist painter seems ever present in the bold lines and emotional directness of his playing. The Vortex Club's piano has been better tuned than it was for this visit, and its mid-range clang may well have propelled them toward more percussive than lyrical playing. But Perelman – a rare visitor to the UK – was a revelation in his commanding blend of crackling, Evan Parker-like abstract lines, logical melodic development, fast reactions and an occasionally gruff and breathy tenderness that brought swing-era romantics such as Ben Webster to mind. The pair delivered long, seamless improvisations, but their stories were full of cliffhangers and payoffs. If Perelman played a succession of hoarsely lyrical tenor-sax descents, Shipp played a kind of avant-boogie. When the saxophonist drifted into pulsatingly sinister film-noir mode, Shipp backed off, then hit him with demanding stomping chords. Sometimes Perelman (the most thematic of free improvisers) sounded as if he were playing on a half-remembered chord sequence, or Shipp revealed his deep jazz roots in a stretch of old-school stride piano. Early in the second half, the two grew more patiently melodic, but in their own distinctive ways – through soft saxophone multiphonics and inquisitive pluckings of the piano's soundboard. This was the art of free-jazz improv as eloquently practised by the canniest pair of experts. ― John Fordham, The Guardian


Tags: Ivo Perelman, Matthew Shipp, Duo, Piano Sax Duo, The Art of the Duo, Callas, Complementary Colors
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Continent-spanning concerts celebrate the seven-volume The Art Of Perelman-Shipp, a high-water mark for the duo format and for free improvisation. Read more..

Mar 29, 2017  |  Share: