Jun 24, 2015
“Prolific” would be an understatement to describe the recorded output of saxophone player Ivo Perelman. Over the past 30 months, Ivo has released at least ten CDs under his own name on the Leo Records Label, most of them fascinating avant-garde improvisations on the tenor sax.
His output almost came to a sudden halt last year when he began to experience pain and bleeding from his mouth. He discovered that he had damaged his larynx by the heavy use of notes in high registers, exacerbated by the use of equipment that was not conducive to his schedule. He was forced to take a break, but luckily found that rest and a change in gear fixed the potentially career-ending injury.
During this hiatus, he began listening to opera, particularly singers who had suffered similar problems with their larynx. This led him to re-discover the music of Maria Calls, diva par excellence. He soon had a “new hero”, and the style and fire of her recordings led to his new double-CD Callas, featuring one of Perelman’s longtime collaborators, Matthew Shipp on piano.
That might be a lot for most musicians, but Ivo released two other CDs last week as well. Tenorhood is his opportunity to salute the spirit of his favorite tenor sax players, from Ben Webster to Sonny Rollins, and from John Coltrane to Albert Ayler. Taking a page from Coltrane’s book, the CD is a set of duets with drummer Whit Dickey, and rather than recording say, “Oleo” as a tribute to Rollins, he instead channels Sonny’s spirit and approach in an improvised portrait of both the man and the player.
Lastly, and perhaps most adventurously, Perelman recorded Counterpoint, a trio setting with two masters of avant-garde string sounds – violinist Mat Maneri and guitarist Joe Morris. The result is a dynamic – and challenging to the ear - series of improvised conversations between three masters, at times sounding quite unlike anything I have ever heard.
Podcast 484 is my conversation with Ivo Perelman, as he discusses his background and his growth as a musician from his childhood in Brazil through his short stint at Berklee ending with his new home in New York. Musical selections from the new CDs include the opening “Part 1” from Counterpoint; “Tosca” titled in honor of one of Maria Calls’ greatest roles from Callas; and a tribute to one of the great saxophonist of our time, “For Coltrane” from Tenorhood.