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