Aram Shelton

Two Cities

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If you're wondering whether or not there is a connection between Keefe Jackson's Fast Citizens and Aram Shelton's Fast Citizens, the answer is a definite "yes." Fast Citizens are a collective, and they have different leaders at different times. While Jackson was the leader on the 2006 release Ready Everyday, Shelton is in charge on the 2009 date Two Cities (whose title was derived from the fact that Shelton has both a Chicago connection and an Oakland connection). Shelton was prominently featured on Ready Everyday and contributed the piece "Blackout"; on Two Cities, however, Shelton contributes five pieces. But stylistically, Two Cities is not a major departure from Ready Everyday. Post-bop and avant-garde jazz are still Fast Citizens' focus, and the influences that served them well in the past (Ornette Coleman, Sun Ra's Arkestra, Charles Mingus, Dave Douglas, East European music) continue to serve them well on this 59-minute CD. Fast Citizens' approach remains an inside/outside approach, but ultimately, outside playing is dominant for the acoustic sextet (which consists of Shelton on alto sax and clarinet, Jackson on tenor sax and bass clarinet, Josh Berman on cornet, Fred Lonberg-Holm on cello, Anton Hatwich on bass, and Frank Rosaly on drums). And even though Shelton is the one in the driver's seat this time, there is never any doubt that Fast Citizens are a musical democracy. All six members make inspired contributions to the cerebral, abstract post-bop/avant-garde/free jazz dialogue. Those who enjoyed the Jackson-led Ready Everyday will be glad to know that Fast Citizens fare equally well under Shelton's leadership on Two Cities.

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