Monday, February 13, 2023

DL Review Part 10: Ivo Perelman - Reed Rapture In Brooklyn, With Colin Stetson

Ivo Perelman
Reed Rapture In Brooklyn 

Part Ten - With Colin Stetson

Think fast - you have the chance to play a contrabass saxophone. What do you do? Imitate Adrian Rollini's style of '20s jazz, or the version of it that was recreated, was some surrealism, by Roger Ruskin Spear and Rodney Slater in the Bonzo Dog (Doo Dah) Band? 

No. You go for the low HONNNNNNNNNNNK and see how many people are blown across the room. You want to be Anthony Braxton. Or Roscoe Mitchell. Or - God help us all - Borbetomagus.

Or you're Colin Stetson.

To clarify (meaning, the placate any quibblers), most of the gentleman mentioned above played the Bass Saxophone. Mr. Stetson plays the contrabass saxophone. He also plays the tubax, a slightly more portable version of the contra- version, which was invented at the end of the 20th century. 

Another thing to clarify is that anyone thinking they can immediately create a thunderous honk on the big horn better have a lot of wind power of their own. I have a feeling that the act of making that monster wail isn't easy too easy.

Which is why Stetson's performance with Ivo Perelman is so fascinating. His technique is such that he seems to let sounds ricochet through the inside of his bell as they make their way out. He also unleashes a flurry of rapid finger flutters over the keys, making his instrument sound downright lithe. This all comes after both saxophonists open the track ("2") with two high pitched wails that will knock you across the room, and Stetson immediately pulls back to create waves of sound that imitate guitar feedback.

A low-bottom instrument like Stetson's could easily take on the role of a bass guitar and set up a riff that adds some foundation to a free improvisation. That happens in "1" but Stetson also sounds like he's trying to catch up with Perelman's tenor, which is blowing rapidly in the other channel, like he's several steps ahead of the bigger horn. Riffs surface in a few other tracks and Stetson even sounds a bit like some icy synth noises ("5") as well. This particular track sounds pretty free, with both players blowing for keeps, but the way they play has a clear, forward motion to it. 

All that analysis of Stetson does not mean that he overshadows Perelman's tenor. True, there are moments where our host acts like the straight man, playing at a low volume, waiting for something big to come along. But he rides his partner's waves of sound, never staying in one place long enough to get predictable. If his tenor gets hysterical, it quickly calms back down. After the session's wild ride, "6" closes on a slow, pensive note, which still includes moments that are almost bluesy and rather dark. But the subdued tone impresses, especially after what precedes it.

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