Ivo Perelman: tenor sax; Matt Shipp: piano; Gerald Cleaver: drums
Contrarily to the feel of dandified unresponsiveness transmitted by an awful lot of today’s jazz records since their very first notes, The Foreign Legion is opened by a beautifully vibrant piece called “Mute Singing, Mute Dancing” where Perelman’s sax proves the man’s willingness to reach for the uppermost pinnacles of lyricism while remaining distant from precise stylistic connotations. He still maintains the intention of utilizing asymmetrical dispossessions of melody to arrive in the places where regular phraseologies are deemed unacceptable to explicit complex feelings. This is just an appetizer for the compactly fierce near-perfection of the rest: in the subsequent track – “An Angel’s Disquiet” – we find what’s probably the most considerable balance of instrumental voices, Shipp expanding and elaborating chordal designs without manifesting a will of dominance, Cleaver drumming with impassioned austerity to drive the improvisational vehicle far from the contingency of rhythmic triteness. On the top, Perelman travels across various stages of shamanic liberation from the body, pushing his vision at the borders between coherent stoicism and consuming catharsis.
“Paul Klee” begins with whispered grace, Shipp leaving room for the piano resonance to spread, Cleaver enhancing the silences with elusive touches on cymbals and skins. Perelman asks simple questions prior to exploring contrasting ranges as the introspective character of the music becomes palpable, thus completing an inspired contrapuntal conversation. “Sketch Of An Wardrobe” (sic) sounds like fractured poetry, three diverse susceptibilities fusing into eleven minutes of disputatious prescience; the listener is led through a small pan-tonal universe where immunity from commonplace is not utopia. “An Abstract Door” is the closing statement: dissonant improbability, purposeful give-and-take, polymorphic sharpness offered by the artists in a new display of agile skill, the instruments intertwined in an inexpressible dance around the core of mercurialness. Like everywhere else, fervent excellence flashes its grin.