Speculations about the meanings of sound are always fascinating to entertain, as semiologists like Roland Bathes did in some of his writings, exploring how elements of sound are interpreted based on inherent timbral features, as well as context and associative links. Such ponderings are provoked by listening to saxophonist Perelman and trumpeter Wooley's 10 sonic conversations on this release that make one acutely aware of the uncanny ability of sound to communicate.
Whether it is the inquisitive passages in the opening "Four," the assertive bravado phrasing of "Seven A," or the plaintive whining of "One A," one gets the clear sense that these improvised interactive duo statements are pregnant with significance that is beyond words to explain, but which anyone hearing them can sense. This effect is evidence of an intimate and profound sensitivity to the instrumental means that allows such expressive articulation.
The sonic qualities of the music on Polarity contain a great variety of emotional inflections emanating from the greatly gradated colors of the playing, which, as the liner notes by Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg make clear, include "various manners of glissandi, buzzing, harmonics and split tones which are echoing between [the players]...odd accents, repetitions and disjointed articulations, bits and pieces extracted out of the realms of jazz soloing and dancing on shared invisible moving beats." The playing, while abstract in the sense of not adhering to recognizable rhythmic, harmonic or melodic predetermined formulae, has flourishes of quick, long jazz lines, as well as ballad-like lyricism, mixed in with percussive effects and a great awareness of dynamics and all manners of phrasing that make this a fulfilling listen, from beginning to end.
The trumpet/tenor sax tandem is as old as jazz itself, but Perelman and Wooley bring us up to speed with a 21st century take on the art, an impressive account of what can be done with the blend of brass and reed that hits home so deeply in the jazz aficionado's ear, heart and mind.
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