By Paul Acquaro
Ivo Perelman: A Musical Storyteller, tells the story of the Brazilian saxophonist from his formative years as a young musician moving to New York in the early 1990s, after a dissatisfying introduction to being a working musician in Los Angeles, to present day. It begins with the restless artist telling this story and how his own musical way began unfolding after a producer invited him to make the music that he wanted. Drawing from his love of nature and the sounds of his native Brazil, Perelman began intertwining his freer inclinations with the folk music of home.
The film introduces many of the voices of the people who have worked with – and in many cases continue to do so – Perelman through the years. From musicians he played with for inspiration in Brazil to well known names like bassist William Parker, pianist Matthew Shipp, drummer Whit Dickey, pianist Marilyn Crispell, and drummer Gerry Hemingway. Many of the interviews were conducted recently, held over the all too contemporary medium of the web conference. Regardless of whom is speaking, they refer to the ease of with it is to play with Perelman and the organic, natural flow of music. Most interesting is a key formative concert that Perleman played at the old Knitting Factory in New York City with Brazilian vocalist Flora Purim. Archival footage of the 1990 concert is juxtaposed with a current interview with Purim, making for a neat loop in time. In a sense, that what the film captures, Perelman is always moving forward but not forgetting his roots.
Over the course of an hour there is ample footage of Perelman in the studio and on the stage, and in many interviews. The interviews seem to especially highlight the importance of musical relationships, whether between people or the artist and the environment. As Perelman says, he doesn’t like to play over changes, but rather from his life, his memories, from feeling. Musician and recording engineer Jim Clouse discusses the saxophonist’s work ethic, to which he applies the word ‘natural’ as well. When Perelman is in town, says Clouse, Perelman comes to the studio and in a few hours lays down a set of music with a well chosen set of musical partners and then lets him do the rest.
Ivo Perelman: A Musical Storyteller is a captivating documentary. It is currently making the rounds in festivals and will soon be available on streaming platform near you.
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