Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

351

Aram Shelton's Fast Citizens: Two Cities

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
One of the defining characteristics of Chicago's progressive jazz scene is the ubiquity of a tight-knit group of young, post-Ken 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 line-up has remained unchanged, with alto saxophonist Aram Shelton and cornetist Josh Berman joining Jackson on the front-line, supported by cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, bassist Anton Hatwich, and drummer Frank Rosaly. Rather than functioning as a true collective however, this unit features a rotating leadership position. Their first recording, Ready Everyday (Delmark, 2006) featured Jackson as the primary composer; on their sophomore effort, Two Cities, Shelton assumes the role of principle writer and bandleader. Though Shelton currently lives in Oakland, California (hence the album title) the group's longstanding rapport yields a unified sensibility, with each musician making inspired contributions.

The vivacious opener, "Two Cities" is an apt demonstration of Shelton's abilities. The tune's dynamic arrangement alternates turbulent density with spacious introspection, providing a fitting showcase for the front-line's interpretive prowess. Shelton's circuitous cadences careen over the rhythm section's bustling undercurrent, his acerbic tone parlayed by Longberg-Holm's caustic arco. Jackson's tortuous tenor proves a perfect foil for Shelton's fleeting alto before Berman takes a sublime cornet cadenza, accompanied by Rosaly's sensitive accents.

Jackson's "Big News" spotlights Shelton's probing alto, simultaneously highlighting Jackson and Berman's congenial interplay in a spirited duet. Vacillating between sonic extremes, Berman waxes lyrical on the pensive "Western Promenade," unleashing coruscating tirades on "The Twenty-Seven"—a bristling free meditation circumvented by the appearance of a hypnotic modal line that fuels the leader's serpentine musings. Revealing the breadth of his talents, Shelton's dulcet ballad "I am Here, You are There" is brief, but poignant.

The supple rhythm section gracefully negotiates abstruse rhythms and modulating tempos, while making strong individual statements—such as Hatwich's plangent rumination at the center of the episodic "In Cycles." Rosaly provides atmospheric drama to "Western Promenade" and a rousing finale to "Big News," which opens with austere neo-classical refrains from Lonberg-Holm, whose expansive contributions include the distorted electronic detritus that cloaks "Easy." Encapsulating his stylistic versatility, Lonberg-Holm's sole written contribution, "VRC#9" dramatically transforms from contrapuntal minimalism to stark pointillism.

Fast Citizens continues to forge its own direction, reaching beyond formulaic conventions to embrace new forms. Much like their debut, Two Cities yields a formidable hybrid of venerable post-bop and avant-garde traditions.


Track Listing: Two Cities; Big News; Western Promenade; VRC#9; In Cycles; I am Here, You are There; The Twenty-Seven; Wontkins; Easy.

Personnel: Aram Shelton: alto saxophone, clarinet; Keefe Jackson: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Josh Berman: cornet; Fred Lonberg-Holm: cello; Anton Hatwich: bass; Frank Rosaly: drums.

Title: Two Cities | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Delmark Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Dormancy

Dormancy

Singlespeed Music
2018

buy
 

Octet

482 Music
2014

buy
On and On

On and On

Singlespeed Music
2014

buy
Everything For Somebody

Everything For...

Singlespeed Music
2012

buy
 

28.000 Days

Gallery-in-the-Field
2011

buy

Related Articles

Read Runner in the Rain CD/LP/Track Review
Runner in the Rain
by Troy Dostert
Published: December 15, 2018
Read Cuarteto Europa CD/LP/Track Review
Cuarteto Europa
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 15, 2018
Read Chicago/Buenos Aires Connections CD/LP/Track Review
Chicago/Buenos Aires Connections
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 15, 2018
Read Beggar’s Banquet 50th Anniversary Edition CD/LP/Track Review
Beggar’s Banquet 50th Anniversary Edition
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: December 15, 2018
Read Intelsat CD/LP/Track Review
Intelsat
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 15, 2018
Read World Gardens CD/LP/Track Review
World Gardens
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: December 14, 2018
Read "Balagan Cafe Band" CD/LP/Track Review Balagan Cafe Band
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: August 10, 2018
Read "Palmares Fantasy" CD/LP/Track Review Palmares Fantasy
by Chris May
Published: May 28, 2018
Read "The Complete Lansdowne Recordings 1965-1969 (Vinyl box set)" CD/LP/Track Review The Complete Lansdowne Recordings 1965-1969 (Vinyl box set)
by Roger Farbey
Published: December 9, 2018
Read "Ultimate Duets" CD/LP/Track Review Ultimate Duets
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: June 11, 2018
Read "The Unknowable" CD/LP/Track Review The Unknowable
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 20, 2018
Read "Symbol Systems" CD/LP/Track Review Symbol Systems
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: June 11, 2018