Everything For Somebody is the latest quartet disc from ex-Chicago alto saxophonist/clarinetist Aram Shelton, now residing in the Bay Area. He’s joined by Daisy, tenor saxophonist Keefe Jackson and bassist Anton Hatwich on a program of six original compositions. Shelton is one of those musicians for whom being an ‘acolyte’ is a respectful position; this writer hasn’t heard too many musicians, especially of a younger generation, take on the compositional tack and improvisational daring of Roscoe Mitchell. Shelton does that but he runs with it and has created a highly personal approach rooted in well-paced repetition and their abstracted (but highly melodic) outgrowths. Jackson’s more burred and quixotic phrasing is a fascinating foil, taking the same germs and contorting them into equally personal problem/solution dynamics. At heart – and not least due to the voluminous, dry activity of Daisy’s kit and the full tone and precise timing of Hatwich – this is swinging and accessible music, far from any rote exercise. Shelton and company balance formal rigor with bright and unruly nowness and that is something their esteemed forbears would appreciate. – Clifford Allen
Originally published in the New York City Jazz Record.
I remember Aram Shelton’s two concerts in Krakow, first one with a Dragon 1976 trio, it was a release tour for the band’s cd on polish Multikulti label and they have played with the polish “The Light” group which was the adience’s introduction to Waclaw Zimpel. I remember that afterwards one of my very firsts texts was published by the Diapazon portal. The second performance I’ve seen was the Ton Trio, an evening of beatifull music. Aram Shelton made a lasting impression with his playing but even more so with the melodic compositions he presented. And he’s still got a knack for the good melody.
“Anticipation” might very well be one of the best introductory pieces in a long time. It swings joyfully, the melody dances lightly on the bass groove notes and smiles warmly through its harmony. It’s spirited, it invites you in and promises more, it engages the listener from the very first notes.
The Tim Daisy – Anton Hatwitch sections swings with a swag while the saxophones engage in their conversations. And the tenor alto matchup works quite brilliantly. The stereo realisation lets you savour the differences in the tone and approach to the solo narrations as well as the way the registers complete themselves in the harmony statements.
“Joints and Tendons” presents a more experimental approach to a composition. Notes are spare and seem disconnected, the long pauses are slowly shortened, and the elements presented before combine toward a melodic coda. “Barely Talking” has more dynamic edge and showcases the rhythm section again, heavy bass and busy drumming with the light hits on the plate just dancing around all the notes.
“Deadfall” opens with an alto interlude, light tone swirls through some harmonic cadenzas only to bring us toward an enchanting lyrical melody of the piece where the melody is passed between the instruments in harmonic sqeuence. The alto leaves the stage and the tenor takes for a lyrical solo that hints on darkness. As the alto comes back, the quartet creates possibly the most intense passage of the album, dark, menacing and intense, without really having to hit the notes high or loud. They release the crescendo and fall back again to the enchanting piece’s harmony.
“Fleeting” ends the cd as it started, joyfull, swinging with a panache. The bass walks happily, the drums syncopate nonchalantly and the alto (first solo) and tenor (second solo) ride the groove. The concise and hip drum solo is there to make the final point.
This cd in many ways brings back the history of jazz music. And it revives it. And it pushes to the tradition forward in a brilliant way.
For its great melodies, for its swing and swagger, for the brilliant solos it deserves as much attention as any “out there” avant music. Could provide a point of mutual understanding between “mainstream” and “free” die-hard fans. And let us hope it doesn’t get lost in the midst of this “sacred war”. Would be a shame as it is absolutelly fantastic portion of Jazz.
Originally published at http://jazzalchemist.blogspot.com/2013/01/aram-shelton-quartet-everything-for.html
What I’ve always loved about Aram Shelton is his investigative ethos. He continually challenges himself and his fellow band mates within each composition. This is ever-present on his newest quartet release, Everything For Somebody.
With his quartet, Shelton stays focused on a more traditional sound – a mixture of hard bop and avant garde that works perfectly. The ideas created by Ornette Coleman are here in Shelton’s playing but as you move further into the record you fly deeper into the band’s vortex.
“Anticipation” opens with beautiful exchanges by Jackson and Shelton. Their performance is really on fire and the addition of the always electrifying Daisy makes the piece a firecracker of an opener. It’s fun, challenging and very versatile.
“Everything To Somebody” begins with a slow melodic approach before the group spins into a nice boppish groove carried through by Hatwich and Daisy. Hatwich provides a nice bridge in the middle of the piece for Jackson and Shelton to gather new concepts and rejoin with vibrancy, carrying the tune back to a somber but celebratory conclusion.
I love the freedom Shelton gives the group on “Barely Talking.” The main melody and theme are established in the opening lines but from that point on, each musician crafts his own vision. Tim Daisy displays an improvising spirit that for me resembles Andrew Cyrille. Jackson and Shelton apply complimentary notes that flow with aggression and beauty. And there’s a great passage in the middle of the piece between Daisy and Hatwich that is simply exquisite…and could have gone on much longer.
While Aram Shelton is pretty much based out of San Francisco now, the distance does not stop this Chicago quartet from sounding as fresh and vibrant as ever. If you were to start your journey into Aram Shelton’s material Everything To Somebody is wonderful place to start. Another superb addition to my albums of the year. Highly Recommended.
By Stephan Moore. Originally posted at JazzWrap
Aram Shelton’s latest presents another strong set of material from an alto saxophonist who should be getting more recognition for his prolific output and busy schedule. While his release earlier this year of duets with drummer Kjell Nordeson might have been more of a specialized interest, Shelton’s quartet presents a full picture of his inventive writing and spunky soloing.
The band includes tenor saxophonist Keefe Jackson – who compliments Shelton so well that it’s sometimes hard to tell who’s who when their ranges overlap (they’re panned towards different channels) – bassist Anton Hatwich and drummer Tim Daisy (who replaces original quartet member Marc Riordan). Shelton cites Ornette Coleman and Charles Mingus as influences on the group but it’s more a case of taking inspiration from them rather than trying to copy those particular players. “Anticipation” presents the first such example, beginning with a Coleman-style folky waltz that shifts to a stretched-out rubato feeling for the middle eight, before shifting back to the first section. This structure recurs during parts of the solos too, which adds a good tension when the horns join together. Shelton also delivers a remarkable, frequently vocal solo.
“Joints and Tendons” leans closer to homage with a theme reminiscent of the Art Ensemble of Chicago. It features a very AACM approach of roughly five or six staccato notes followed by brief silence… then a sustained, often dissonant, harmony. Arty (no pun intended) and a little spare, it still offers intrigue for Daisy’s brief spastic solo and the fact that Jackson and Shelton on harmonize in crisp tones closer to West Coast cool cats than Chicago revolutionaries.
“Barely Talking” has a simple, catchy melody and a solo from Johnson that sounds free, especially in connection with Daisy, but maintains a focus and direction throughout. Hatwich also gets his moment in the spotlight too. “Deadfall” gives the leader his chance to go it alone for the first two-and-a-half minutes.
After last year’s impressive albums on Clean Feed with the groups Cylinder and Arrive, and the most recent Fast Citizens album on Delmark, Shelton is coming at it from all angles with a strong voice and engaging material. Everything for Somebody adds to that, and hopefully he’s starting to catch on so that the title won’t just refer to a limited set of listeners and appreciators.
By Mike Shanley
Original post at Shanley On Music
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 collaborate on this project.
The quartet’s sound derive s from a gratifying mix of Shelton’s compositions and the band’s improvised playing. The six tracks heard here neither stray too far from the themes, nor are they contained by stifled by the written notes. The disc opens and closes with two very Ornette Coleman-sounding tracks. Both “Anticipation” and “Fleeting” spin gamboling patterns and joyous sound before opening up for some seemingly pell-mell soloing. Jackson and Shelton trade-off, while Hatwich and Daisy keep the order with a proper groove.
Elsewhere, subtlety rules the hour. Shelton’s compositions ease into quieter moments, as with the title track and the skulking, open-ended “Joints And Tendons,” featuring paired improvisers placidly reaching for a freedom that starts and stops with injections of melody and harmony. “Deadfall” opens with a memorable solo by Shelton, before gaining momentum and a burning intensity. Everything For Somebody begs to be heard in a live setting; this is of the tightest bands of loose improvisers playing today.
By Mark Corroto. Originally published at All About Jazz
As the press release states, this is jazz music inspired by the likes of Ornette Coleman, Eric Dolphy, Mingus and the Art Ensemble of Chicago. I guess that looks like a tall order to fill, but Aram Shelton doesn’t fail you one second on this excellent release. It’s also – for those interested (like me) – the second album from the 4tet on Shelton’s Singlespeedmusic label.
Everything for Somebody is one of those albums like much of the music coming out of the Chicago scene, a mixture of free and composed jazz. Although Shelton isn’t based in Chicago he seems to have put together this group from his earlier residency there. Members Keefe Jackson (tenor sax), Anton Hatwich (bass) and the most recent addition Tim Daisy (drums) .. a name that shouldn’t need any introduction! One could try and get philosophical about this music, but somehow there doesn’t seem to be any need as it’s music that touches the listener right from the opening notes. ‘Anticipation’ which dances away on a simple joyful swinging melody leaves space for the two major soloists of Jackson and Shelton to blow simple melodic improvisations. The dancing melody starts as an easily memorable melody but the two soloists dig deep helping to yield hidden secrets gradually, balancing a fine line between free-bop and more dense melodic improvisation. It’s this ‘fine line’ that carries itself through the record, and for me makes this not only highly listenable, but also a refreshing breath of air.
The opening sounds of ‘Everything for Somebody’ almost takes you back to hearing Ornette for the first time with his famous quartet, although here it’s two saxes. Keefe Jackson blows some powerful free-bop lines that really hang together in the same way the Dewey Redman managed. Aram Shelton seems to play some serious lines on this tune which are a marvel to behold, floating over the swinging bass and drums like a butterfly in the wind. The energy of the the whole group never lets up for one minute, holding your attention throughout. All the tunes on this release are very strong, adventurous in style and thinking, they ultimately carry the musicians to areas where they can find new ideas. ‘Joints and Tendons’ really explores sound textures for all the group, setting up each member in a duo context whilst cleverly weaving in melodic fragments.’Deadfall’ is a mournful cry for the solo alto of Shelton cueing in the group (several minutes into the piece) into a gorgeous arpeggiated melody. The rest of the band grab this and gradually build into a wailing free-for-all before finding their way back to the serenity of the initial melody. ‘Fleeting’, the final track treats us to some fine free flowing ideas from the whole band with solos from all and a wonderful Ornette-esque melody to sandwich the ideas.
Another fine album from Aram Shelton who seems (from what I’ve seen) to be a very interesting voice in the world between improvised music and free jazz. His wonderful Arrive albums (*), electro acoustic experiments, Cylinder and other such projects go to show that Shelton is constantly looking for new avenues of experimentation.
A highly recommended album for those who enjoy the meeting of swing and free jazz. Some tags could be – Ornette Coleman, Atomic, Motif, The Engines, Vandermark 5 … if you see what I mean!
Original post at FreeJazzBlog