Suite for Helen F.

Ivo Perelman

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Suite for Helen F. Review

by Dan Warburton

Appearing here in a double-trio lineup with bassist and drummer Dominic Duval and Jay Rosen going head-on with Mark Dresser and Gerry Hemingway, tenor saxophonist Ivo Perelman leads the session captured on Suite for Helen F. (the "F" refers to abstract expressionist painter Helen Frankenthaler), one of the most monumental free jazz outings of recent years, a truly Mahlerian opus in seven parts lasting 107 minutes. Those familiar with earlier Perelman outings, notably on the Leo label, will be familiar with his own paintings, in which, in keeping with the kind of music he makes, pigment seethes in thick layers; colors, shapes, and textures collide; and semi-recognizable features melt into abstraction in a frenzy of creation. Despite the dedication to Frankenthaler, the booklet to the disc rather surprisingly contains none of her paintings, but instead seven of Perelman's, whose urgent pulsing forms match the double trio's music admirably. Perelman has a big, round tone and swings like hell, but can also melt the fillings in your teeth with stratospheric blowing easily a match for the veteran free jazz screamers. As both painter and saxophonist, it's clear he enjoys being on the edge, and Suite for Helen F. is a joyous affirmation that it's a great place to be.