Ivo Perelman: The Eye Listens
Ivo Perelman (reeds), Wilbur Morris (bass), Michael Wimberley (drums)
As ever, it's Perelman's superb sense of linear development and melodic expressivity which impresses on this trio set. Such a stripped-down setting is a great way to hear the saxophonist, just as it is for Ayler and Brotzmann, the two players with whom he is most often, and most unhelpfully, compared.
Like Ayler, Perelman has a genius for taking a melodic line and pulling it into different shapes, a singing quality which favours simple, cellular melodic material but serpentine, oblique developments of it. Like Brotzmann, he has achieved mastery of the extremes of his horn. But what he does is really not much like either of them, reminiscent though it may be.
There are just five pieces here, which offer the opportunity to hear Perelman developing music at rather greater length then usual, three of them being substantrially longer than anything else this writer is aware of in his catalogue. Live, however, he has been known to discourse at length on his chosen subject, and it's nice that this time we have some more expansive performances on CD.
Morris and Wimberley formed two-thirds of a trio with Charles Gayle on at least one occasion ("Testament" on Knitting Factory), and that was probably good experience for this gig, although Perelman's tone and approach is a good deal less belligerant. The music is characteristically firey here, though, and all three men have to run to keep up with it. This is exactly the kind of thing which works well for Perelman, who appears to be having the time of his life. Both Morris and Wimberley get generous solo space; Wimberley turns in a nice solo on the title track, but otherwise the main attraction is the trio itself and its rush of energy.
This isn't the saxophonist's most subtle record by a long chalk, but it's joyfully exuberant and Perelman is on top of his game. Morris and (particularly) Wimberley offer strong support; in short, this is a blast from start to finish. And in the details, Perelman's melodic and (increasingly) timbral intelligence is perfectly in evidence. A worthy addition to the discography of a player whose place as one of the most impressive tenor players of his generation can now hardly be doubted.