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Tenor saxophonist Ivo Perelman is a bold and prolific innovator who excels in collaborative ensembles. On Polarity, his first release for the new Burning Ambulance imprint, he joins forces with the equally idiosyncratic trumpeter Nate Wooley for an absorbing and dynamic set of improvisations. Each musician follows his own stream of consciousness. Yet they neither echo one another nor collide into cacophony, thus demonstrating a deeper level of creative camaraderie.
Album opener “Four” begins with brief, pensive phrases. Perelman builds a yearning, sharp-edged extemporization while Wooley matches the saxophonist in angularity with muted tones and reverberating notes. The performance’s crystalline structure remains introspective even as it becomes more impassioned, the musicians engaging in a fiery, eerily captivating dance.
In contrast, “Seven A” is made up of undulating individual musings that overlap and interweave while remaining saliently distinct. Perelman and Wooley meander around one another, their emotive lines growing ever more vibrant and agile as they close the tune with a poignant intensity. Even the shorter tracks evolve over the course of their duration. On the boppish “Two A,” the blues-tinged horns engage in an earthy conversation that grows more ethereal as it progresses. Wooley and Perelman push the boundaries of their instruments with sinewy elegance in a singular celebration of musical abstraction.
The sublimely melancholic “Six” provides the grand finale to this superb album. The pair’s lyrical contemplations, made up of haunting refrains, brim with intense spirituality. These melodic fragments reshape and transfigure as the piece proceeds with delightful dissonance to its dramatic conclusion.DK Polarity is a work that requires immersive listening and it rewards listeners on both a visceral and cerebral level. Although Perelman and Wooley have played together in quartets before, this duo setting truly brings out their remarkable synergy. — Hrayr Attarian