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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Aram Shelton: Everything for Somebody

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Currently based in Oakland, California, alto saxophonist Aram Shelton initially rose to prominence as a member of the fertile Chicago jazz scene, where he resided from 1999-2005. His tenure in the Windy City resulted in a number of lasting relationships; one of the most notable is his Quartet with tenor saxophonist Keefe Jackson, bassist Anton Hatwich and drummer Tim Daisy. Featuring some of Chicago's finest young improvisers, Everything for Somebody is the group's sophomore release, following These Times, its 2010 Singlespeed Music debut.Shelton's frequent visits to the Midwest have provided numerous opportunities to rehearse new material with his ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Aram Shelton: Everything For Somebody

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Alto saxophonist Aram Shelton cannot break his Chicago habit. We're not talking that monkey woman Joe Williams used to sing about, back in the day. Shelton, who left Chicago a few years back for the Bay area of California, returns to the windy city often, both physically and for its sound.His second quartet recording, like These Times (Singlespeed Music, 2010) lands smack-dab on the Midwestern map. The saxophonist recruited three Chicagoans--saxophonist Keefe Jackson (Jason Stein Quartet, Josh Berman, Fast Citizens), bassist Anton Hatwich (Rempis Percussion Quartet, Wrack), and go-to drummer Tim Daisy (Ken Vandermark, Dave Rempis, James Falzone)--to ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Kjell Nordeson / Aram Shelton: Incline

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The avant-garde schema is sort of an open-world platform where almost anything goes. But Incline is an album that sheds a radiant light on the sax-drums duo format, featuring an inordinate degree of textural components and a seamless integration of two like-minded artists, performing on similar planes. Here, Swedish drummer Kjell Nordeson and American alto saxophonist Aram Shelton opt for a reclusive setting, tucked away in the mountains at a cabin in Lake Tahoe, NV. Perhaps all or most distractions were eliminated during the recording process, resulting in a comprehensive program, as depth, space, and power attain a synchronous plane. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Aram Shelton Quartet: These Times

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It is easy to admire the audacity of Aram Shelton's quartet. Not that the reedman writes insolent and defiant music; but given the attention-grab improvisers are facing today, he is so very loyal to the melody. This group is quartet subset of his Fast Citizens sextet, minus trumpet and cello, here, pairing things down to tenor saxophonist Keefe Jackson, bassist Anton Hatwich and drummer Marc Riordan. While melody plays a large part in his other projects--like Dragons 1976, Ton Trio, and Arrive--they are all predisposed to be open platforms for freedom and flights of energy. Here, the quartet ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Aram Shelton’s Fast Citizens: Two Cities

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Fast Citizens may encapsulate a significant shift that's been occurring in creative improvised music over the last few decades, with the collective nature of music by a sextet of musicians who have been around long enough to qualify, more-or-less, as veterans.

This is such an integral aspect of what they do, they make the case that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. For example, on the opening title track, both Keefe Jackson, on tenor sax, and cornet player Josh Berman display their skillful soloing within the composition's essentially expansive framework. The composition is a treat, thanks ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Aram Shelton's Fast Citizens: Two Cities

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The Fast Citizens was formed by Keefe Jackson in 2002, who led the band on its debut recording Ready Everyday (Delmark Records). The sextet rotates leaders, and this time around it's led by saxophonist/clarinetist Aram Shelton. Shelton is based in Oakland, California but also has an ongoing musical relationship with Chicago. Hence the title, Two Cities.

One of the core strengths of this group is its ability to transform the shape and texture of a composition, doing so with a subtle shift of timbre and nuance--perception being the key factor. The pulse is a consequence but it does not strictly ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Aram Shelton's Fast Citizens: Two Cities

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One of the defining characteristics of Chicago's progressive jazz scene is the ubiquity of a tight-knit group of young, post-Vandermark improvisers who alternate sideman and leadership duties in a variety of ensembles. Whether led by individual artists or operating as loose collectives, they approach the tradition from similar angles, seamlessly incorporating aspects of swinging post-bop, edgy free improvisation, and contemporary composition into a cohesive whole. Their historically reverent, yet adventurous inside-outside sensibility has come to define the Windy City's current underground aesthetic.

Fast Citizens is one such group. Formed by tenor saxophonist Keefe Jackson in 2002, the sextet's ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Josh Berman / Aram Shelton / Weasel Walter: Last Distractions

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Last Distractions is a highly ambitious project, undertaken with just two horns and a drummer--three horns, actually, as reedist Aram Shelton plays two different ones. This trio of Shelton, cornetist Josh Berman and drummer Weasel Walter has set its sights on a determined and inspiring set of improvised music.

The Chicago jazz scene is the inspiration for this trio, as all three made their names in the new milieu of jazz that the Windy City spawned in the 1990s. Walter played with The Flying Luttenbachers and continues with bands such as Burmese, XBXRX, and his namesake quartet. Berman and Shelton ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Aram Shelton: Arrive

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With obvious reference points to Jackie Mclean's '60s work with Bobby Hutcherson, Aram Shelton's Arrive works hard to update the alto saxophone/vibraphone front line format with varied, but generally engaging results. Hailing from Chicago since his move there in 1999, Shelton possesses a mathematically angular yet fluid tone reminiscent of both Anthony Braxton and McLean. As part of the Document Chicago series, Arrive relies on the off-kilter and odd-meter sounds available to this instrument combination, often utilizing configurations that seem like more of an experiment in sound and structure inline with modern chamber music than jazz or free improvisation in ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Aram Shelton: Arrive

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When Document Chicago was released in 2003, it re-affirmed Chicago's unique place in contemporary improvised music. In the 1960s the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) brought attention to forward-thinking artists like Henry Threadgill, Muhal Richard Abrams, and the Art Ensemble of Chicago. But recent years have seen a new wave of creative musicians who are finding fresh ways to advance the AACM's aesthetic into the 21st century through assimilation of more modern devices.

Four players who seemed to show up all over that sampler were woodwind multi-instrumentalist Aram Shelton, vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz, bassist Jason Roebke, and drummer ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Aram Shelton: Arrive

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This, the ninth recording in the Document Chicago series, it continues to provide the listener with interesting twists and turns. Aram Shelton's music treads a path that is gentle in its ministrations and elevated by the sensibility of the musicians. This does not deny Shelton from blowing some pithy trajectories or keep Jason Roebke from spurring some dervish whirls on the bass. And it does allow Tim Daisy to time in with interesting pulses and odd accents and permit Jason Adasiewicz to suspend time or give it fecund flow.

The band starts off on an inviting note with ...



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