SAX LITTLE LEFT OF CENTER: Jure Pukl : Abstract Society: Featuring Vijay Iyer, Joe Sanders & Damion Reid, Ivo Perelman/Matt Shipp/Gerald Cleaver: The Foreign Legion, Ivo Perelman with Sirius Quartet: The Passion According to G.H., Rich Halley 4: Back From Beyond

There are some styles of music that I must confess, I just don’t get. Outside tenor sax players is a “type” that seems contradictory, as the whole reason the instrument was devised was to sound as “heavenly” as a cello, and as “human” as a male voice. Why create a flower and turn it into an AK 47?

1) You know what you’re in for with Jure Pukl just by glancing at the titles. “Random Logic,” “The Force” and “Abstract Society” are truth in advertising, as whether on tenor or soprano sax, Pukl leads pieces that have cuboidal melodies, aggressive chaos and brooding melancholia respectively on these types of pieces. The first rate talents of Vijay Iyer/p, Joe Sanders/b and Damion Reid/dr are stretched to their limits, whiel Pukl does haunting harmonics on the dark “Waterfalls” while the agitation on “Circle Mind” will get your grey matter swirling. Whew!

2) The pianoless quartet of tenor saxist Rich Halley (who also performs on flute and percussion) mixes freebop, Mingus-styled moods along with funky blues. The team of Michael Vlatkovich/tb, Carson Halley/dr and Clyde Reed/b is quite flexible and can turn on a curve, and there are many hairpins here. “Opacity” and “Solanum” is reminiscent of Mingus’ days with Eric Dolphy, while the plodding blues on “Basalt” and the funk groove of “Section Three” gets quite high in the blood pressure. Halley’s tenor sound is thick and wooden, exuding force more than any other emotion.

3) Ivo Perelman leads a trio with Matt Shipp/p and Gerald Cleaver/dr over 5 tunes that consist of puffing arpeggios (“Mute singing, mute dancing”) and sonic effects that sound like a traffic jam in Naples. “An Angel’s Disquiet” even includes a few screeching tire sounds, while “Sketch of an (sic) Wardrobe”) is an impersonation of a donkey being pulled up a hill against its will. Why does spontaneity always imply cacophony?

4) Perelman teams up with a string quartet on his interpretation of The Passion, which I assume to be of The Christ Jesus. If so, the 15 minute “Part 3” is like a sonic Via Dolorosa, complete with the agony of being whipped 39 times. Perelman’s unaccompanied intro the “Part 4” leads in to some searing strings. Is this where The Lord is crying out for being forsaken? Likewise the altissimo and agitated sounds comingling on “Part Six” could be reminiscent of the earthquake during Christ’s final breath. After such an avalanche of sounds, all I could think of was another statement of Christ, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Storyville Records

Pine Eagle Records

Leo Records




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