A One-Time Collaboration, A Long Time Coming, Finally Arrives!
From Clean Feed:
Can musicians of different generations be like-minded companions? Yes they can, at least when their names are Larry Ochs and Aram Shelton, the two composers and bandleaders of this quartet. As they themselves acknowledge, “Continental Drift” is a kinetic meeting of sorts, with compositions that are designed to inspire magnificent contributions from the entire team of players, both individually and collectively. The resulting music profits greatly from each members’ individual capacities and personalities. Ochs and Shelton’s musical backgrounds are both quite varied, evidenced by their own separate pasts exploring the worlds of jazz, contemporary classical, electro-acoustic and “other” music. More than that, both have been important voices of the San Francisco Bay Area improvised music scene: Ochs being a cutting-edge Bay Area improviser since the 1970’s, while Shelton, now living in Europe, is also known for his connections to the very different Chicago scene. Each plays in his own way, but they share the same principles and look for very similar results – together creating new music with a jazz approach and an avant-garde attitude, not alienated from history. Created in two recording sessions spaced almost exactly five years apart, Continental Drift encompasses a wide range of styles and deep-felt emotion. The musicians leave it all on the floor here through inspired and unique performances.
Aram Shelton arrived on the San Francisco Bay Area scene in 2005 and was a vital presence there until his departure for Copenhagen in 2016. Almost from the beginning of his time here, I wanted to do some kind of project with him. We didn’t play together often, but in another Universe, one where promoters were not generally afraid to book so-called “improvised music” or “avant jazz” or “free jazz,” Aram and I would long ago have formed a working group that toured once or twice a year. I obviously don’t have any idea what the word “accessible” means, but our music, and much of the music I admire, doesn’t qualify to fit within that word’s common meaning. So it was only at almost the very end of Aram’s Bay Area tenure that he and I finally got our act coordinated time-wise and focused on this recording. In summer 2013 we recorded all but one of the pieces on this CD, thinking after the session ended that we had a recording to release. Listening back to a mix of “The Others Dream” months later however, it was clear to me that that piece needed to be re-recorded. The individual playing was great, but the architecture of the piece, the transitions / the flow – the intrinsic elements of a piece that make music really happen, they just weren’t ready yet.
Mark Dresser lives in San Diego; he’s a busy guy. We couldn’t find a time to get him back up to the Bay Area when we were all here too; Kjell Nordeson was also spending a ton of time in San Diego. And then Aram moved to Copenhagen. That made re-recording with the original quartet virtually impossible. In fact it took 2.5 years just for Aram and I to be in the Bay Area at the same time. So in 2018, we asked Scott Walton to sub for Mark on “The Others Dream,” and that went so well, so quickly, that we recorded “Continental Drift” on the same session. Aram suggested that title to me right after the piece was recorded, and it later seemed like a perfect title for the CD itself.
The music rocks. Everybody plays like it’s a live gig. You can see the perspiration on the CD’s grooves. Hope you dig it as much as I do.
released July 11, 2020
- Aram Shelton – alto saxophone
- Larry Ochs – tenor and sopranino saxophones
- Kjell Nordeson – drums
- Mark Dresser – bass (tracks 1-3 and 5 -7)
- Scott Walton – bass (tracks 4 + 8)