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«Embracing the Unknown»

Prolific Brazilian-American tenor sax player Ivo Perelman sees his free improvised work continuing the pioneering heritage of free jazz masters John Coltrane and Cecil Taylor. The title of his new album, Embracing the Unknown, not only captures the true essence of free improvisation but the album itself allows Perelman to play for the first time with the great rhythm section of legendary double bass player Reggie Workman, who has worked with Coltrane (and Perelman already recorded with another associate of Coltrane, drummer Rashied Ali), and with legendary drummer Andrew Cyrille, who has worked with Taylor. Chad Fowler, the owner of Mahakala Music and a close collaborator of Perelman, rounds this quartet and plays on the rare stritch and saxello. Embracing the Unknown was recorded at Perelman’s regular studio, Park West Studios in Brooklyn. Perelman did the cover artwork and his long-time friend and collaborator, pianist Matthew Shipp, wrote the liner notes.

Workman and Cyrille bring to this session their generous souls, open mind and spirit, and, obviously, their extensive experiences and sharp instincts. You can’t go wrong with such a rhythm section. Perelman, who leads this recording session, seeks a similar but different sonic-spiritual path of Workman and Cyrille, given that his roots are Brazilian and he is a secular Jew. The titles of the seven pieces suggest that Perelman thinks of free improvisation as a way for self-reflection and self-fulfillment. Perelman, like Workman and Cyrille, always searches into sound, extended breathing techniques, or the physics of his horn and the depth of his psyche. 

But Perelman does not attempt to follow Coltrane’s sound or approach. Clearly, Perelman is well-versed in the legacy of the Black American free jazz but has his own powerful sound and strong-minded and authentic attitude. And Perelman knows how to navigate wisely such free improvised settings, let the pieces find their own course, with the right level of energy, and lead the music from the sublime («Self-analysis») and the most emotional to the joyful and the cathartic (the opening, title piece) with almost natural ease, and organic dynamics. Perelman, Fowler, Workman and Cyrille beautifully complement each other and offer an uplifting listening experience, with the wisdom of generations, soulful and even sensual energy (listen to Brazilian-tinged «Self-reflection» and the last piece, «Self-contemplation») and spiritual grace. A historical document highlights jazz’s unifying and exploratory spirit, transcending geographical and generational boundaries to foster an inspiring, creative exchange.

Eyal Hareuveni

Ivo Perelman (tenor saxophone), Chad Fowler (stritch, saxello), Reggie Workman (double bass, percussion), Andrew Cyrille (drums)