January 25, 2001
The Eye Listens
Boxholder BXH 012
Few people really appreciate the romantic underpinning of the sort of Free Jazz expression that Brazilian tenor saxophonist Ivo Perelman and his two confreres have created on this disc.
As committed to exploration, as was another Portuguese speaker, Vasco da Gama, who was first to sail from Europe to Asia around the Cape of Good Hope, Perelman isn't afraid to give his all every moment. Despite being under 40, he has about as much in common with suit sporting, swing-protecting, neo cons jazzers as the Amazon River does with Long Island Sound.
His fine work here and that of other navigators in the chart-less waters of Free Jazz confirms that the New Thing of the 1960s has become as much a part of the music's vocabulary as the blues or Dixieland. All that's necessary is to accept the sound for what it is and begin to appreciate the refinement that lurks below the surface. The overblowing and glossolalia of Perelman's in-your-face saxophone solo may be the first impression you gain from "A Night At The Opera". Yet underneath the fury there's a contorted, but pretty standard melody, that could be a Broadway ballad, as straightforward as any warbled by John Raitt on the stage. Rubato showcases like "Dance of the Infidels" assay his command of tone and tempo.
Like the music on this CD, much of Perelman's past triumphs have been in the company of heavyweight bassists and drummers such as William Parker, Dominic Duval, Rashied Ali and Gerry Hemmingway. His partners here easily take their places besides those stylists. Someone who has gone head to head with other powerhouse saxophonists like Thomas Borgmann, David Murray and Charles Gayle, bassist Wilber Morris is the voice of moderation throughout. His instrument's voice may be quieter than the others, but his vocal interjections coupled with stinging string stabs with his bow on "Give Them the Spiritual" show that his commitment — not to mention his playing — is as powerful as the others.
Michael Wimberly, who has written music for the Joffrey Ballet and taught percussion as well as backing the likes of Gayle, easily constructs alternating polyrhythms on "The Solution". Elsewhere, he can react as speedily as a hound following the sound of what could be burlesque duck quacks erupting from the saxophonist. Other times he constructs his own percussive dance to buoy the proceedings.
Throughout, Perelman signals his investigative commitment by often holding onto a musical phrase like a puppy gnawing on a beef bone. He twists each phrase this way and that to get all the nourishment he can out of it, before picking up another motif.
The title, THE EYE LISTENS refers to the variegated color the saxophonist applies both to his spidery paintings — one of which is featured on the booklet cover — and his musical performance. But even without seeing the cover, there are many frenetic tints of exceptional musical hues that the ear can appreciate on the disc.
— Ken Waxman
Track Listing: 1. A Night At The Opera 2. The Eye Listens 3. The Solution 4. Give Them the Spiritual 5. Dance of the Infidels
Personnel: Ivo Perelman (tenor saxophone); Wilber Morris (bass); Michael Wimberley (drums, percussion)