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May 2000

Ivo Perelman
Brazilian Watercolour
The Alexander Suite

Leo Records

Both the prolific recorded output of Brazilian-born saxophonist Ivo Perelman and the way his breathless, full-throated and ecstatic melodies pile up in each of his performances suggest that he's full of uncontained energy. As a hungry 20-year-old he moved to the U.S. to study music back in 1981, but it took nearly a decade of learning and gigging before his music truly kicked into high gear. He moved to New York in 1990 and the city put a flame under his ass. He's released some 20 albums under his own leadership since then, most of them streaked with the searing spiritual yearning of Coltrane and Ayler. Many of Perelman's recordings have sought to draw connections between traditional Brazilian melodies and rhythms and the raw passion of free jazz, and that marriage is boldly evident on Brazilian Watercolour, the bulk of which finds him fronting a trio of superb percussionists: free jazz avatar Rashied Ali, and Brazilian masters Guilherme Franco and Cyro Baptista. While Ali liberates time, Franco and Baptista dance around and through it with "Carnival"-esque polyrhythms. Over this propulsive, celebratory din Perelman manipulates his husky tenor like he's engaged in an intense Capoeira ritual; whether deconstructing the familiar melodies of the Ary Barroso-penned title track-better known as simply "Brazil"-and Jobim's "Desafinado" or delivering rigorous motivic investigations on a slew of edgy originals, his emotional and cerebral engagement is rarely less that total. The remainder of the program features several brooding duets with Matthew Shipp, the pianist's harrowing, architecturally lean, oblique contours frequently tempering Perelman's screaming extroversion into piercing sobs on the brink of complete collapse.

Originally published in May 2000
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