ARAM SHELTON’S ARRIVE – THERE WAS…(CF 217)
Originally from Florida, saxophonist/clarinetist Aram Shelton spent a few years in Chicago before leaving for Oakland in 2005. However, he never severed his ties and Arrive is one of several projects he has put together with former colleagues since his departure. Joining him in this venture are Jason Adasiewicz on vibraphone, Jason Roebke on bass, and Tim Daisy on drums. Adasiewicz’s instrument provides a unique atmosphere. Although he gets enough room to stretch, it is his role as a colorist that is most striking. He also creates a deceptively relaxed mood that tends to hide a real sense of purpose and freedom. As the main soloist, Shelton, who sticks to the alto sax throughout, alternates between graceful and jagged lines and carefully articulates his ideas, avoiding any ostentatious display. Shelton’s six compositions are constantly moving forward thanks to Roebke’s acute sense of pace and Daisy’s effective drive and swing. They are also steeped in the finest tradition of creative jazz. Finally, There Was… benefits greatly from the rapport the musicians developed during the tour that preceded the recording session.
Arrive – There Was… (CF 217)
Valutazione: 4.5 stelle
Che la separazione tra nuovo e vecchio nel jazz rischi di far prendere abbagli ce lo insegna a suo modo anche questo bel disco, registrato da un quartetto i cui componenti dovrebbero fornire di per sé sufficienti garanzie all’ascoltatore più accorto e aggiornato.
Shelton è uno dei protagonisti assoluti del jazz chicagoano degli ultimi tempi, Adasiewicz è tra i musicisti più intelligenti dell’ultima generazione, come si capisce dalle sue collaborazioni con Mazurek o dall’accurata intervista che gli ha fatto recentemente Luca Canini per AllAboutJazz; Roebke lo abbiamo ascoltato in Italia con il gruppo di Mike Reed e Daisy suona regolarmente con Ken Vandermark.
There Was…, registrato nell’agosto del 2008 a Chicago (in uno studio in cui si era drammaticamente rotta l’aria condizionata), al termine di un tour statunitense, immortala un gruppo in cui l’attenzione per la forma e la struttura è associata ad un altrettanto valida considerazione per il suono.
In tutto questo si alternano momenti rigorosi e obbligati, swing poderosi in cui la batteria memore del Max Roach anni Sessanta e di Roy Haynes fa da contraltare al vibrafono rilucente e originale, capace di far riverberare lo spazio sonoro o al sassofono colemaniano di Shelton che in ogni assolo dimostra uno spiccato senso della frase.
Le parti scritte e gli sviluppi improvvisativi si muovo tra geometrie ad assetto variabile lungo strade in cui a far da apripista c’è sempre il poderoso contrabbasso di Roebke.
ARRIVE – There Was (CF 217)
CYLINDER – Cylinder (CF 219)
Composer-reedman Aram Shelton is a very unassuming character, which is partly why his trajectory is so interesting to watch. Based in Oakland, California for the past several years while studying at Mills College, he’s still found time to maintain his Chicago roots, playing with cooperative ensembles like Fast Citizens and Rolldown as well as various West Coast aggregations. As an improviser, he’s probably one of the most consistently exciting altoists on the contemporary scene, having studied intently the music of historic messengers like Jackie McLean, Gary Bartz, Roscoe Mitchell and Anthony Braxton and wrapping it all into his own conception. Two recent discs on the Clean Feed label put an excellent spotlight on some of Shelton’s activities – namely, the quartets Arrive (which began in Chicago) and the decidedly Bay Area band Cylinder.
Arrive features fellow Rolldown members Jason Adasiewicz (vibes) and Jason Roebke (bass) along with drummer Tim Daisy, and There Was is their second disc to date. The opening title piece gradually shifts from spare tonal exploration to sharp alto pirouettes atop a taut, active thrum, Roebke’s fistfuls making this groove edgily pliant and brightly accented. The vibist’s solo shows just how much he’s progressed over the last few years, bright pools and fragmentary sub-tunes making themselves clear in one of the most strikingly (no pun intended) individual statements on the instrument in recent memory. “Frosted” exhibits a shredded view of a nocturnal half-ballad as Shelton takes a caressing tone and eviscerates it with gutsy near squall, at other times making coagulated blues. Adasciewicz matches delicacy with crisp, snaking movement in a mirror to the saxophonist’s devilish turns before Daisy inflects the tune with calypso-like rhythms. From the lilting melody of “Lost,” it’s a quick transition into Roebke’s woody muscle, using hands, bow and forearms to craft tensile opposition. Reprising the theme, its resonance is catchy and Shelton’s blistering statements rekindle the fiery gobs of AACM sound as much as they do an aggressively-tinged hardbop push. He’s clearly a player who knows two divergent traditions well, but his own work as an instrumentalist-composer is to find ways to bring them together.
Cylinder is the cooperative quartet of Shelton, trumpeter Darren Johnston, bassist Lisa Mezzacappa and drummer Kjell Nordeson (who splits his time between California and Stockholm). The trumpeter composed the opening “The Ear That Was Sold to a Fish,” which recalls the John Carter-Bobby Bradford Quartet in its uneasy funereal unison before splaying out into curling alto, as meaty pizzicato bass and Nordeson’s light rattle build a rhythm environment. “The Deep Disciplines” pits short, darting segments against sawing insistence, alto and trumpet in loose commentary atop a swaying hull and obsessive patter. A drummer who builds his language from small rimshots, highly-tuned taps and deadened thuds, Nordeson is one of the most engaging parts of this quartet, especially as he counters Mezzacappa’s robust and steadfast bass playing. The pair tugs at one another on the brief “Shells,” written by the drummer as a chunky rhythmic exploration that soon steps out of bounds while horns pile on with cutting interplay. Mezzacappa’s closing “Earthworm” is a spacious roil with bass clarinet and drums played off of rude harmonic scrawl in varying degrees of density. Cylinder presents a solid program of piano-less quartet music and, while not all of it is entirely distinctive, the contrasts between the group’s four personalities should make for excellent future results. Both discs are a fine place to introduce oneself to Aram Shelton’s music.
ARRIVE / There Was… (CF 217)
Un deuxième (ou je m’abuse?) album pour ce quatuor du saxophoniste Aram Shelton, avec Jason Adasiewicz (vibraphone), Jason Roebke (contrebasse) et Tim Daisy (batterie). Plus constant que le premier. Très jazz, assez puissant, le jeu coulant d’Adasiewicz adoucissant les aspérités du saxo alto. Un disque studio honnête.
A second album (or am I mistaken?) for this quartet led by saxman Aram Shelton, with Kason Adasiewicz (vibes), Jason Roebke (doublebass) and Tim Daisy (drums). More consistent than the first CD. Very jazzy, quite powerful, Adasiewicz’s flowing playing smoothing out the alto sax’s asperities. A honest studio album.
Arrive – There Was (CF 217)
Listening still ranks as one of the most important aspects of performing. Ask Pauline Oliveros, she agrees. Aram Shelton, a onetime local who now resides in the Bay with his alto sax but makes frequent pilgrimages back to Chicago, is well acquainted with the necessity to bleat out incomprehensible melodic progressions, but then rein it in and allow enough room for his cohort to expound related musical ideas. Affiliated with everyone from Weasel Walter, another East Bay transplant, to the Functional Blackouts, Shelton’s dates as a leader aren’t as varied as his other recording concerns, but hint at the ability to augment his tone and style on demand. Working with the Portuguese imprint Clean Feed, Shelton’s brought out “There Was…” with his group Arrive. The band, a quartet including Jason Adasiewicz on vibes, Jason Roebke with his bass and sometime-Vandermark associate Tim Daisy on drums, turned in six tunes for its latest release. Strikingly broad for an offering hemmed up in avant-jazz terms, the quartet works in airy tones as much as frenetic improvised passages and even tosses in a few drum solos. “Frosted” finds Daisy being featured for a romp over his toms, somehow avoiding overt African references, exemplifying Shelton and his group’s ability to adroitly assimilate influence without sacrificing the personal. Marshall Allen and John Gilmore, from Sun Ra’s groups, don’t function as the center to Shelton’s sound. It’s lighter, even sidestepping Art Ensemble ties. The band leader’s new(ish) digs out west, though, might serve as a better point of reference—Mills College is out there. But even Anthony Braxton doesn’t hold sway over Shelton’s approach to music. He’s a rare contemporary player capable of adding in some Euro-styled experimentalism with rhythmic ideas, no doubt, gleaned from his work in the Windy City.
Arrive – There Was… (CF 217)
Reedist Aram Shelton founded his quartet Arrive in Chicago, and though he moved to the Bay Area in 2005—the rest of the band still lives here—the group has only gotten better throughout this period of forced long-distance collaboration. Arrive’s recent second album, There Was . . . (Clean Feed), sounds more assured, focused, and unified than their 2005 self-titled debut. Granted, the group has been playing most of the album’s six tunes on and off for several years, and they cut the record right after completing a U.S. tour—but Shelton has also grown as a composer. The rhythms are less jagged and more fluid, the melodies are more elegant, and in the hands of Shelton (on alto sax) and his front-line partner here, vibist Jason Adasiewicz, the arrangements sound more thoughtful and rich. Shelton’s playing is intense but not overloud, and I hear a shift from the more buoyant sound of Ornette Coleman toward the tightly coiled style of Eric Dolphy (sans his trademark intervallic leaps). The pairing of an astringent alto with vibraphone inevitably evokes late-60s Blue Note sessions with Bobby Hutcherson, who worked with Dolphy and with brilliant altoist Jackie McLean. But Shelton sounds more like himself than ever, and with empathetic support from the agile rhythm section—bassist Jason Roebke and drummer Tim Daisy—so does Arrive.
Jason Adasiewicz – Sun Rooms (Delmark)
KLANG – Other Doors (Allos Documents)
Aram Shelton’s Arrive – There Was… (Clean Feed)
Giving up the drums to take up the vibraphone is like quitting basketball to try out for the volleyball team. It seems to be a choice that limits one’s options. But this is just what Jason Adasiewicz did, purposely taking up a fringe instrument and mastering it in a fringe musical category, helping restore the vibes to its former glory.
Sun Rooms is the self-titled CD of a trio completed by Chicago luminaries Nate McBride (bass) and Mike Reed (drums). While each instrument has its individual moments, the strength of the music is found in the interplay, Reed zipping brisk rolls off his snare, McBride bowing feverishly or walking his bass with aggressive intent and Adasiewicz striking the vibes to create resonating harmonies. You can hear the physicality in his playing in the way he holds back his mallets until the final second and in the ringing overtones that move through the air after he strikes. The tunes are relatively compact yet tightly composed, the band’s sound harkening back to economical BlueNote classics like Out to Lunch or, better still, Point of Departure. Sun Rooms offers similar disjointed harmonies, unconventional melodies and layered rhythms that together generate a cohesive blend.
The backstory to Klang’s Other Doors tells how clarinetist James Falzone was approached to interpret the music of Benny Goodman for a Chicago jazzfestival. The young musician had his misgivings about reliving elements of the clarinet’s past. It’s hard to tell if Falzone continues to distance himself from Goodman’s legacy but it’s a pity if he does because the contemporary takes on some classic Goodman small group sides are the best thing about Other Doors. Divided equally between new arrangements and new pieces, Falzone and his group of Chicago allstars (Adasiewicz, bassist Jason Roebke and drummer Tim Daisy, augmented here and there by Josh Berman, Jeb Bishop, Keefe Jackson and Fred Lonberg-Holm), the players are melodic and joyful on the Goodman tunes and relatively abstract and improvisatory on the originals. Simultaneously reverent and progressive, Other Doors is an impressive combination of practiced virtuosity and spontaneous creativity.
Yet another release to spring from the incredibly fertile and cross-pollinating jazz scene of Chicago, Arrive is a band comprised of Klang’s rhythm section supporting alto saxist Aram Shelton. On There Was… the tunes may be Shelton’s, but it’s Adasiewicz as often as not taking the lead. Whether it’s with Daisy’s brushes on “Frosted”, Jason Roebke’s bass on “Golden” or producing the hazy nightclub-of-the-imagination atmospherics of “Lost”, Adasiewicz’ hits his vibes hard and lets the metallic soundwaves reverberate in your ears. The action shot of the band on the inside cover tells the tale of this group’s barely contained fierceness: Daisy locked in, Roebke swinging, Shelton’s horn rising ever so slightly upward and Adasiewicz in a defensive stance, about to pounce on the vibes with both hands.