Ton Trio II is Aram Shelton on alto saxophone, Scott Brown on bass and Alex Vittum playing drums, and together they deliver a showcase of musical dexterity and ideas that grabs you the moment the needle finds the groove, or the laser hits the disc, or the data streams to the player. Continue reading “On and On at Free Jazz Collective”
Ton Trio II, On and On: Plenty to like in the new one by Aram Shelton’s Ton Trio II. The alto saxophonist’s compositions leave the door wide open for lengthy improvisations from himself as well as bassist Scott Brown and drummer Alex Vittum. Most pleasing it the seeming ease of Shelton’s lyricism at high speeds, the way a sailboat glides across the tops of choppy waves. Released a little earlier this year, it’s just now getting offered digitally.
Oakland, CA, based jazz and improvisation protagonist, alto saxophonist Aram Shelton could hold his own with most anyone in a cutting-contest. But there’s more than a whole lot of technical acumen taking place with Ton Trio II. One of the principle selling points so to speak, is how the musicians impeccably integrate the modern jazz vernacular with invocative avant-garde campaigns, heaving with impact and intensifying discourses.
The trio’s spry and spunky demeanor is led by Shelton’s burly tone and fluent phrasings amid a search and conquer manifesto. On “Orange Poppies,” the band whirls through—with the greatest of ease—a complex bop-drenched time signature as Shelton ignites a firestorm. Here, bassist Scott Brown primarily operates within the upper-registers to incite a sense of urgency, where the band lashes out with sizzling choruses, sparked by Shelton’s amazingly fast flurries and gruff accents. He circumnavigates many of the rhythmic components executed by drummer Alex Vittum’s crackling pulses and polyrhythmic attack, along with solos that convey poetic qualities.
The band’s concentrated focus is keenly disassembled in certain movements as they loosen the vibe with free-form escapades of various hues and cadences. But the quasi, jazz-waltz oeuvre “Let’s All Go,” is a solid forum for Shelton to deliver John Coltrane-like chromatics via searching notes during an extended bridge as he restates and darts around the main theme, anchored by the rhythm section’s blustery grooves. However, Vittum explodes with a rough and tumble solo, gushing with regimented maneuvers; fancy footwork on the bass drum, and dizzying geometrical patterns as the band closes by punching out a snaky unison chorus. Otherwise, Shelton communicates isolation and reflection on the ballad “Findings,” ramped up by a mid- tempo jaunt, dyed with a harrowing storyline. Hence, the musicians’ self-perpetuating cycles of enthusiastic interplay engulfs the dynamically moving parts. Indeed, a blockbuster production.
by Glen Astarita, originally published at All About Jazz.
Because reedist Aram Shelton first made his name during his years in Chicago and continues to work in numerous ensembles featuring strong local players, that’s the context in which he tends to get covered by the Reader. But he moved to Oakland, California, in 2005 and he’s been superactive in the Bay Area since then, so even we don’t hear about those activities so much. Shelton has just released On and On (Singlespeed Music) with the second iteration of his long-running group Ton Trio. The album was made by a new lineup featuring bassist Scott Brown and drummer Alex Vittum. I just got my copy of the album and I haven’t had enough time to really immerse myself in the sounds, but on first blush it’s another winner. Today’s 12 O’Clock Track is a superbuoyant, hard-swinging gem called “Orange Poppies,” where the rhythm section provides agile, swift support for Shelton’s tart alto saxophone, which hurtles over the grooves without a misstep. At times there’s no missing the melodic brightness of Ornette Coleman, but Shelton has his own sound, flush with wild intervallic leaps, and flecked by sudden upper-register squeals and percussive honks. It’s a remarkable performance. Check it out after the jump.