An exploration of a group within a group, the combination of sound and musical texture that is built up only to be stripped bare and to begin again. As a tenor saxophone player myself listening to the harmonic brilliance and lyrical sense of urgency makes me realize now more than ever that my tenor and the music world would best be served if my horn were a decorative planter on a wall at the nearest TGI Fridays.
Perleman is going through what may be his second most prolific output of recording and compositions during his professional life but the key to The Foreign Legion is the lost art of listening. I believe it may have been John Coltrane who was credited with making the statement to the effect of, "listen to the notes that I do not play." Perelman, pianist Matt Shipp and drummer Gerald Cleaver work together to create an atmosphere where you can simply listen and then fill in your own blanks. Perelman is an acclaimed visual artist laying claim to the evocative cover art here as is on the vast majority of his releases. The deceptively subtle colors and shading in his visual artistry make a pronounced if not profound effect in The Foreign Legion with the exception that here Perelman paints from a deep sonic color palette allowing Shipp and Cleaver the abstract spatial freedom to fill in any musical gaps as need be. "Mute singing, mute dancing." This is the trio concept in full effect. Three distinct musical voices working in an abstract lyrical expression that transcends genre, space and time.
An incredibly organic work whose genesis is spontaneity and fertilizer is deep rooted in the artistic soul others can spend entire career searching for and never fully reach. The only conceptual nature to Perelman's work is in correlating his performance to the inspired work that may be in play. How this transpires is strictly an in the moment experience. "Paul Klee" is a mesmerizing and introspective piece with an air of mystery as the tune unfolds to reveal the spatial ambient quality of the creative duo of Shipp and Perelman. It is this masterful manipulation of participants that adds as much depth and character as does the somewhat abstract yet accessible improvisation. The subtle nuances of Cleaver allow the listener to suddenly realize they have been listening to a trio the entire time. It was with the release of Family Ties that Perleman's creative juices began flowing again and his unique understanding of how the simple addition or subtraction of certain members at specific points in time could dramatically shape the music into new and subsequently different artistic form and functionality. Bassist Joe Morris sets on this incarnation or reformed trio much in the same fashion Shipp rode the pine for Family Ties.
The Foreign Legion revolves around musical freedom but in a distinctly different fashion as Perelman credits Shipp's innate rhythm sense and understanding of the expansion and contraction of the rhythmic undercurrent that feeds off the at times minimalist expressionism needed to main a varied repertoire of trio tracks with different compositional components similar in some respects to the trademark ebb and flow of some ECM releases. Intense but satisfying. Inmate yet aggressively so.
Ivo Perelman is a musical assassin with a mouthpiece. Expect the unexpected. The ability to perform ones own musical autopsy and do so in such a stunning and artistically challenging presentation is nothing short of stunning. Ivo Perelman may well be the most adventurous saxophonist of our time.
Tracks: Mute singing, mute dancing; An Angel's Disquiet; Paul Klee; Sketch Of A Wardrobe; An Abstract Door.
Personnel: Ivo Perelman: tenor saxophone; Matt Shipp: piano; Gerald Cleaver: drums.
Extra Special Thanks to Amy at DL Media