June 20, 2024


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CD review: Ivo Perelman, Tim Berne, James Carter, Tony Malaby – (D)IVO – 2022: Video, Photo, CD cover

An Ivo Perelman album – and there are so many of them – typically begins and ends with the saxophonist’s sheer moxie. For one of his latest endeavors, Perelman had the audacity to follow in the footsteps of the World Saxophone Quartet and ROVA in putting together his own, all-star quartet of reedists.

Christened the (D)IVO Saxophone Quartet, the reed-only construction on their album (D)IVO boasts Perelman on tenor, Tony Malaby on soprano, Tim Berne on alto, and James Carter on baritone saxophone. Carter and Berne reunite in an all-saxophone lineup decades after serving in Julius Hemphill’s Sextet during the early 90’s, itself an expansion of the idea of WSQ, of which Hemphill was a founding member.

Perelman’s (D)IVO isn’t quite like any of those other all-saxophone ensembles, though. Instead of focusing on arrangements of the instruments joining together in harmonies that show off the richness of variations in the saxophone timbres when blended together, Perelman and his partners go for instinctual individual articulation, reaction and anticipation. They do come together, but it’s without any forethought, it just happens. It happens most startlingly on the last track “Part Seven” when every not played by every player is played in relation to everyone else. Again, this is all done uncharted.

But the rest of the fare that comes before it have other ways that astonish in how four strong entities forge their disparate styles together instantaneously to make music full of interaction and imagination.

The opening “Part One” begins with four different voices and as they feel each other out, the four find common ground and operate very distinctively from each other but also in concert with each other. And a single remark by one player can completely change the course of the performance; that’s no different than what happens in other Ivo Perelman-involved improvisations, but to hear it among a quartet of saxophones is strangely fascinating.

The quartet draw out their notes for “Part Two,” forming a drone that culminates into a high note and then a gradual breakup of the unity into a loosely guided chaos. But over the course of this thirteen minute ride, they continue to veer close to each other, only to explode apart again to set up the next regrouping in a completely different way. There is never a moment you sense they are not listening very closely to each other.

“Part Three” opens with Perelman alone but the others join in one by one and evoke the deep romance of 40s jazz, even as the melody they are playing is decidedly avant-garde. The outpouring of unbridled passion during “Part Four” sometimes makes it sound as if there are six saxes, not four. Listen carefully and you’ll hear Carter’s baritone framing a real melody while the others create their own abstractions from it.

Group squawkery peppers the initial moments of “Part Five” and “Part Six” is one long murmur – almost minimalism – with different players occasionally venturing out to add accents.


Ivo Perelman’s latest adventure (D)IVO is no less challenging than his previous ones and also no less rewarding. He and his cohorts have rewritten the rules of the saxophone quartet.

(D)IVO is an album by the (D)IVO Saxophone Quartet, comprised of saxophonists Ivo Perelman, Tony Malaby, Tim Berne, and James Carter on tenor, soprano, alto, and baritone, respectively. (D)IVO was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Jim Clouse at Park West Studios, in Brooklyn, New York, in January 2022, and it was released on February 18, 2022, by Mahakala Music.

This album will dry you out. It is intense and somehow brutal, but it offers epic music, thereby fulfilling the highest expectation of free jazz; it is surprising and provocative, but it also enriches the listener’s experience.

Ivo Perelman is a Brazilian tenor saxophonist and composer who has been active on the jazz scene since the early 1990s. He has collaborated with some of the biggest names in jazz (e.g., John Zorn, Dave Holland, Matthew Shipp, William Parker, and Marilyn Crispell). His own music is marked by its fierce improvisational style, which often pushes the boundaries of conventional jazz.

Just take a look at his Discogs page, and you will notice how productive and well accompanied he is. You can also be sure that this release is a high point in his career.

“On this album Perelman, democratically, leads the saxophone quartet D(IVO) […] The seven pieces included here are all pure extemporizations and the four saxophonists react to each other with seamless camaraderie and uncanny ability to anticipate one another’s ideas. At the core of all of the intricate interplay, of course, is Perelman’s tenor anchoring the others deftly and with elegance. Even when all the musicians simultaneously embrace raw emotion with delightful dissonance the group sound manages to remain well organized.” – Hrayr Attarian

It seems impossible to grasp how much talent and inspiration were needed to achieve such perfection in these four saxophones’ alignment, as well as in their non-alignment. How is it possible? Maybe this is like looking up to the celestial bodies gravitating around each other through forces that are elusive to us, and yet there it is, magnificent and—thankfully for us—here for a very long time.


1. Part One 10:18
2. Part Two 13:45
3. Part Three 5:32
4. Part Four 10:29
5. Part Five 5:00
6. Part Six 6:27
7. Part Seven 7:40

Ivo Perelman – tenor saxophone
Tony Malaby – soprano saxophone
Tim Berne – alto saxophone
James Carter – baritone saxophone

Ivo Perelman - Tim Berne - James Carter - Tony Malaby - (D)IVO - CD – Rough Trade

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