Tag Archives: Arrive

All About Jazz review by Troy Collins

Arrive – There Was… (CF 217)
A longtime fixture of the fertile Chicago jazz scene, Aram Shelton’s relocation to Oakland, California has not diminished the alto saxophonist’s presence among his peers in the Windy City. Courtesy of a rigorous touring schedule, Shelton maintains memberships in numerous ensembles, including Jason Adasiewicz’s Rolldown, the collective ensemble Fast Citizens, and Arrive, his quartet with vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz, bassist Jason Roebke and drummer Tim Daisy—three of Chicago’s finest improvisers.

Recorded in 2008 after a two week tour of the East coast, There Was… is the quartet’s third album, following Live at Elastic (Single Speed Music, 2008) and their 2005 self-titled debut on 482 Music. Originally founded in 2001, the group’s practiced rapport is manifest in fluid interchanges and seamless transitions that lend the intricate structures underlying Shelton’s complex writing a casual sense of clarity. Although Shelton’s tuneful post-bop readily evokes the adventurous 1960s-era Blue Note recordings of such luminaries as Eric Dolphy, Andrew Hill and Bobby Hutcherson, Shelton and company transcend stylistic preconceptions with a modernistic spin on the tradition. A judicious use of melodic counterpoint, intervallic themes and shifting time signatures provide these compositions with an expansive dynamic range and bracing vitality unique to their time.

Shelton’s nimble cadences reveal a pliant tone that veers from plangent to strident. His serpentine phrasing enhances the soulful ardor of lyrical motifs while instilling a commanding fluency to his more abstract excursions, which include bristling chromatic trills and vocalized ululations. From supple kaleidoscopic shadings to ringing metallic cascades, Adasiewicz’s versatility has made him omnipresent in the Chicago jazz scene; his harmonic audacity makes him a perfect foil for Shelton’s unfettered explorations. The rhythm section gracefully negotiates fractured rhythms and vacillating tempos with swinging aplomb, while making strong individual statements themselves—such as Roebke’s expansive rumination at the center of “Golden,” or Daisy’s rousing drum-line inspired coda on “Frosted.”

The quartet’s commitment to organic development and narrative detail is exemplified by the episodic “Lost” and the closer, “Golden,” which slowly build from balladic musings to ardent finales. The former tune modulates from pointillist call-and-response to a bracing 6/8 vamp as Roebke and Daisy underscore the billowy sustain of Adasiewicz’s double-mallet attack, providing a locomotive undercurrent for the leader’s architecturally concise solo. Ascending to a fevered pitch, Shelton unleashes a compounding array of coiled variations, driven by Daisy’s rigorous downbeats and Roebke’s elastic ostinato, that culminates in a thrilling climax of rock-like intensity. “Golden” follows a similar arc, trading pneumatic precision for a nebulous maelstrom of expressionistic drama.

Alternating angular bop melodies and lilting swing motifs with languid noir blues impressionism and aleatoric introspection, Arrive navigates a multi-hued panorama of sound. Drawing inspiration from past masters while moving headlong into the future, There Was… offers an adventurous yet accessible variation on the jazz tradition, demonstrating Shelton’s subtly innovative take on historical antecedents.

Free Jazz review by Paul Acquaro

Aram Shelton’s Arrive- There Was… (CF 217)
Aram Shelton’s ‘This Was…’, recorded with his group Arrive in 2008 is a serious affair that is quite a fun and demanding listen.

I was first struck by how cool this group was, cool in the sense of how the vibes, the upright acoustic bass, the commanding sax, and some very hip drumming, casts a spell. At the same time, I was impressed by how hot the band was, in the sense of, well, just tearing it up. Their intensity is impressive, but so is how neatly they color outside the lines. While on the surface the tunes may feel very composed and modern, a deeper listen reveals some fine and fierce free playing.

I think by the time I got to the tune, ‘Lost’, I found myself thoroughly engaged. Jason Adasiewicz’s vibraphone and Jason Roebke’s bass generate a palpable density that is buoyed by Tim Daisy’s drums. On top, Shelton has a serious foundation for spinning fractured and dazzling solos. Adasiewicz shines throughout, using the vibes to set a dark, sometimes mysterious, atmosphere. His solos, like on the laid-back ‘Frosted’ are as tantalizing as Shelton’s, reacting to the rhythm section, always servicing the aesthetic of the song but not pulling any punches.

Shelton’s composing blends sophisticated syncopation and harmonies, and all the songs are distinctive. The suspended and slow building ‘Golden’ comes to mind as a highlight. All four instruments act as part of the melody, building up to a small peak before resolving into some free playing. Soon it becomes a duet between the vibes and bass, their conversation becomes more obscure, but captivating, only to soon be joined by the others and driving to a greater crescendo. Shelton solo is rather intense but always in control of the exuding passion.

The contrasting qualities of this album are what makes it so tantalizing. It’s laid back, but aggressive, cool but passionate. Composed, arranged but free and unpretentious. There is not a dull or unimportant note or rest that is out of place on this edgy piece of modern jazz.

The Jazz Review review by Glenn Astarita

Arrive – There Was… (CF 217)
This quartet provides a many-sided view point, where freedom of expression is laconically aligned with the avant-garde strata.  Stationed in Chicago, the quartet led by alto saxophonist Aram Shelton offers a program consisting of subtle hooks, detours and focused theme-building exercises.  Engineered upon straight forward bop, capacious improvisation, and numerous subplots, the quartet throttles the intensity level throughout.

Shelton and vibist Jason Adasiewicz are strong foils, whether they generate light and perky swing vamps or abide by a flotation-like modus operandi, witnessed on “Cradle.”  Strategically interspersed with unanticipated unison choruses and linear phrasings, the musicians sustain a fresh sound, sparked with bristling flurries and counterpoint maneuvers.

Shelton is a fluid saxophonist who keenly sculpts melody and dissonance.  Therefore, he straddles a fine line between the free realm and post-modernism.  Moreover, the rhythm section shades, complements and assists with revving up the overall game-plan.  For instance, on “Fifteen,” the soloists fuse sparse phrasings into an introspective motif, nicely contrasted by drummer Tim Daisy’s off-kilter responses.  And with the final track “Golden,” the band is in no rush to get anywhere, but raises the pitch during the bridge.

Arrive is a unit that crafts a mark of authenticity but doesn’t slash and burn with maddening intensity.  In effect, the musicians enliven the freer realm with an artsy underpinning.  Therefore, the album is not a platform teeming with innumerable technical gymnastics and wanton soloing spots.  Among other positives, it’s an endeavor created with substance and fluent ideas that synchronize the best of many jazz-induced mechanisms.