Music Reviews

Ivo Perelman, Matthew Shipp: “Magical Incantation” Review


You’ll have to forgive me, but free jazz adjacent sax master Ivo Perelman and his frequent partner in crime, pianist Matthew Shipp, have recorded so many albums together that I’ve lost track.

But while I may not know all their names, I can tell you that their newest collaboration, Magical Incantation (CD, digital) is impressive, even in their rather extensive collaborative career.

Ivo Perelman Matthew Shipp Magical Incantation

The album opens…

with a song called “Prayer,” which is a somewhat smokey and atmospheric piece in which, ironically, it sounds like the two have just met for the first time, and are feeing each other out…on a dark and stormy night…in a seedy bar…in the 1940s.

It’s a mood that continues, somewhat, on Magical Incantation‘s second track, “Rituals,” which is slightly peppier, not nearly as moody, and nothing like you’d hear in a noir movie…unless it was made by someone like Jim Jarmusch. Sax players in the ’40s didn’t squeak and sqwonk that much.

The dark and smokey mood then returns for “Lustihood,” on which Shipp plays slowly and carefully, as if contemplating every note, while Perelman plays as if he’s lamenting something, but is not sure what, so he’s kind of poking around, and only occasionally veering into free jazz adjacent squeak territory.

Magical Incantation then becomes more aggressive (relatively speaking) and off-kilter with the decidedly free jazz adjacent “Enlightenment,” on which both Perelman and Shipp alternate between being playful and scattershot, but not necessarily at the same time. Though it does get mellower as it comes to the end.

Next, Perelman and Shipp go back to the mellow but not smokey approach of “Rituals” for Magical Incantation‘s fifth track, “Sacred Values.” Though it also, towards the middle, takes a tonal shift, becoming slightly more free jazz-y in how Shipp pounds the piano keys and Perelman blows the sax with more power.

The free jazz aggression then continues for “Incarnation,” on which Perelman goes fully squonky on the sax, while Shipp slams the piano like he’s the Phantom Of The Opera trying to make a point. That is, until they get to the middle, at which point both become a bit more playful while still keeping the same strong approach.

The playful approach also continues in Magical Incantation‘s penultimate track, “Vibrational Essence,” which opens with Shipp dancing his fingers across the keyboard, an approach Perelman follows a moment later and for the rest of the tune, save for some small bits where they slow things down momentarily.

Which brings us to the end of Magical Incantation: the aptly named “Magical Incantation,” which sounds like an overview of the album, as it has mellow parts that seamlessly build into noisier bits — the squonky-iest of the whole collection — and back again.

Ivo Perelman Matthew Shipp Magical Incantation

It is, quite simply,

the highlight of this impressive collection, and a fitting end as well. Because while I may not remember how many albums Ivo Perelman and Matthew Shipp have recorded together, I expect I will remember this one.

SCORE: 8.0/10



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