Free Jazz review by Stef

Ivo Perelman, Daniel Levin & Torbjörn Zetterberg – Soulstorm (CF 184)
That even forward-thinking musicians need a challenge, is well illustrated by this album. Clean Feed’s Pedro Costa wanted to record with Ivo Perelman and wanted a cello and a double-bass to interact with him. He proposed the names of Daniel Levin and Torbjörn Zetterberg. Neither of the three knew each other’s music, let alone played together, yet they trusted Pedro Costa’s good judgment. And they were right. All three musicians are knocked out of their comfort zone and forced to play this double CD of incredibly open music, very often driven by Levin’s cello, who seems most at ease in the unpredictable proceedings, yet gradually Perelman and Zetterberg become part of the overall sound, rather than just participating.

“Footsteps”, the second improvisation encapsulates it all : the music is fragile, but equally ominous and dark when both strings use their bow and Perelman plays the deepest tones possible, then shifting between free lyricism and tonal explorations, between evaporating patterns and unique abstract figures, yet Perelman is not an in-the-moment musician (he is not Dunmall or Gjerstad), he needs to develop, to add and to build on past notes and phrases, to expand to reach some emotional release from tension, to suddenly come with a jubilant phrase.

The three musicians largely remain within the natural speaking voice of their instruments, rarely using extended techniques, but the free form and organic development leads to some fantastic moments of deep interplay and emotional sensitivity.

The title of the album also comes from a Clarice Lispector book, this time one with short stories, called “Soulstorm”, and the titles of the tracks all represent the titles of one of the stories.

The first CD is an afternoon rehearsal before the performance, the second CD gives the evening performance in front of an audience. For musicians who have never played together, the result is excellent, with all three keeping some of their own character and style, yet generously sharing it with the two others, borrowing and absorbing in the process, but then – and that’s the magic of free interplay – moving, pushing each other into regions were none of them had ventured before.

Music can be great!

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