Brazilian tenor saxophonist Ivo Perelman is a remarkably productive recording artist, especially so considering his type of free jazz has almost no viability as a commercial product. How he has managed to convince so many small, independent labels to record him with such great frequency is a mystery. It's not that Perelman is a subpar player -- he plays well in the heavily distorted, abstract-expressionist vein first tapped in the '60s by the Albert Ayler -- but there's little to separate him from contemporaries like Elliott Levin, Ken Simon, or a host of other stylistically-similar tenor players who have received far fewer opportunities. Perhaps it's the company he keeps; Perelman has had the good sense and abundant resources to hire top players to play on his records. His first album, Ivo from 1989, featured an all-star cast that included drummer Peter Erskine, bassist John Patitucci, percussionist Airto, and vocalist Flora Purim, among others. As his career has progressed, Perelman recorded often with players of the avant-garde; he's made albums with the bassist Dominic Duval, pianist Borah Bergman, drummers Rashied Ali and Jay Rosen, pianists Marilyn Crispell and Matthew Shipp, and guitarist Joe Morris, to name a very few.
Perelman played classical guitar, cello, clarinet, trombone, and piano while growing up in Sao Paulo. At the age of 19 he adopted the tenor saxophone as his primary instrument. After coming to the U.S., he attended the Berklee School of Music in Boston for a semester before dropping out (Perelman is purportedly a mostly self-taught, instinctive player; it's not hard to imagine the problems he might have had in a regimented music education system). Perelman's travels took him to Los Angeles in 1986, where he studied privately and performed. Not long after the release of his first album in 1989, Perelman relocated to New York and began recording a series of albums on such labels as ITM, Enja, Ibeji, Homestead, CIMP, Cadence, and Leo. Perelman is noted for combining simple Brazilian folk themes with the techniques of free jazz; in 1997 he did the same thing with Jewish music, making En Adir: Traditional Jewish Songs for the Music & Arts label. Later, Perelman has recorded a series of duets with the aforementioned Bergman, Rosen, Morris (with Perelman on cello), and Crispell. It should be said to Perelman's credit that he is a passionate artist who conveys a great depth of feeling through his music. ~ Chris Kelsey