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Aram Shelton: Arrive

There’s an Ornette Coleman-ish plaint to alto saxophonist Aram Shelton’s sound, filtered through an AACM-ish sensibility circa the late-1970s. Shelton’s clear, vocalic tone and austere phrasing remind me of a young Henry Threadgill, as does the way he combines a jazz outlook with classically derived compositional strategies. Joining Shelton on Arrive are bassist Jason Roebke and drummer Tim Daisy as well as vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz.

Roebke and Daisy make for a sensitive and versatile rhythm section, whether on Shelton’s mutable free-time constructs or on a more conventionally swinging tune like “All Dressed Up.” Adasiewicz is a welcome new voice on what is, these days, a little-used instrument. He works particularly well when given the widest possible rhythmic latitude. Shelton’s more balladic tunes set up chasms between the beats, wherein Adasiewicz shoots and darts effectively. The leader is a promising composer of harmonically ambiguous miniatures–smartly conceived sketches over which he blows with both discipline and even unvarnished passion when appropriately pushed by the team of Daisy and Roebke. Considering Shelton’s youth, and despite an occasionally overly explicit debt to his precursors, this is a notable work.

Originally Published