Music Reviews

Ivo Perelman & Matthew Shipp’s “Fruition” Review


Free jazz-adjacent saxophonist Ivo Perelman and pianist Matthew Shipp are both so prolific that they sometimes don’t give their songs proper titles. On 2020’s Amalgam, for instance, the songs were called “Part 1,” “Part 2,” etc., while the CD in the cleverly titled Special Edition Box had songs titled “Track 1,” “Track 2,” and so on. But now they seem to be fucking with us because while the tunes on their newest (and 18th) album as a duo, Fruition (CD, digital), are also just numbered…those numbers are out of order, and are sometimes higher than the number of tunes. Good thing they’re also really good or I might’ve gotten annoyed.

Ivo Perelman Mattew Shipp Fruition

Recorded June 25th of 2021,

at Park West Studios in Brooklyn, New York, Fruition presents eleven tracks over nearly an hour. What’s interesting is that only two of the tracks are longer than 7 minutes, and five are less than five minutes; unusual for a couple guys who live to improvise. But then, as with many of their albums — both together and with other people — Fruition works just as well as one long, multi-part suite.

On Fruition, this starts with “Nine,” in which Perelman and Shipp both play very off-the-cuff, almost as if they’re competing to be the center of attention. It’s a noisy, visceral tune, but one that does a good job of setting the stage for this album.

Next, Perelman and Shipp present “Thirteen,” which takes a slightly moodier approach (though only slightly), with the former holding his sax notes a little longer, and the latter playing his piano just as frantically, but with a smaller variety of notes and tones.

Fruition then gets even mellower for the smoky tune “One.” On it, Shipp brings the mood way down, almost sounding like he’s in a piano bar on a cold, rainy night, while Perelman plays like he’s bummed because he knows he has to walk home in the rain.

Perelman and Shipp then gets a bit peppier on “Seven,” though more to the level of where they were on “Thirteen” than “Nine.” Again, Shipp sticks to the same section of his piano, while Perelman holds his notes longer until about the middle, at which point both of them slowly but steadily get more playful, only to dial it back again by the end of the song.

Fruition next takes a moodier turn with “Fourteen,” a smoky number that conjures images of detectives in fedoras walking down foggy alleyways after it just rained. And while Perelman’s playing is a bit too scattershot for a noir movie from the 1940s, it still conjures a mood, especially given how Shipp pairs it with some carefully chosen piano notes.

This moody approach continues, albeit not in as smoky or foggy a way, with “Two,” on which Shipp continues to play carefully, as if he’s considering and reconsidering every note. Except for this track, Perelman is ever so slightly more aggressive in his playing; just not as much as he did on “Nine” and “Seven.”

Perelman and Shipp next get even more antsy for “Six,” with both playing a bit more fast and loose with the structure…for a while. Somewhere around the middle, they both calm down and start to play, well, I don’t want to use the word “normal,” but certainly less free form. Not that it lasts; a couple minutes later, as the song draws to a close, both loosen up to the point of being back where they began.

Fruition then strikes a tone somewhere between the mad and the moody with “Three,” on which both Perelman and Shipp play loose but not fast with their sax and piano playing, respectfully, though things do get slower and slower, and thus mellower and mellower, towards the end.

This leads rather nicely into Fruition‘s next track, “Four,” which starts off slow and sporadic, especially where Shipp’s piano playing is concerned; Perelman, for his part, is also spartan but those notes sound a bit angry at first. Or maybe hangry. Either way, it’s an approach that’s consistent throughout this tune.

Next, Fruition gets — dare I say — goofy? Playful? Weird? Drunk? Regardless, the track, titled “Ten,” finds both Perelman and Shipp playing what sounds like a series of random and disparate notes with no sense of rhyme or reason (or melody). Which will undoubtable annoy those who prefer these guys when they’re playing is more on the “adjacent” side of the free jazz adjacent spectrum, not the “free” side, but as someone who appreciate the cacophony, it’s as engaging as any of the tracks on this album.

Ivo Perelman Mattew Shipp Fruition


Fruition comes to a close by pulling things back to more melodic territory (relatively speaking), but with both Perelman and Shipp sticking to the aggressive stance they had during “Ten.” Shockingly called “Eleven” — in that it follows “Ten,” and that it’s the album’s eleventh tune, as if they gave up on the name / number shenanigans — the track has a similar mix of tight but loose playing found earlier, on such tunes as “Thirteen” and the beginning of “Six,” with moments that also recall the album’s opener, “Nine.” Which also makes it a solid way to bring things back around, and also to end this impressive — if poorly numbered — collaborative collection.

SCORE: 7.5/10



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