Jazz | Aram Shelton returns for a tour of Chicago
It's not easy to make a long-distance relationship work, but the reunions sure are sweet. Saxophonist and clarinetist Aram Shelton, a formidable contributor to Chicago's jazz scene during his seven years here, has lived in Oakland, California, since 2005. But he comes back to town several times a year, and plays here so often—he has seven local gigs with five bands scheduled for the second half of June—that it's fair to wonder why he doesn't move back.
"Part of me would like to be in Chicago more often," he admits. "I'm pretty productive while in town, and there are enough projects there to keep me busy. But I have some projects out in California that are moving along, and the living situation is tough to beat. Also, the musicians I play with in Chicago are busy enough that there isn't any guarantee that those groups would play more often if I was in town."
During this visit Shelton will celebrate the release of There Was . . . (Clean Feed), an album by his briskly swinging chamber-jazz quartet, Arrive, and cut two more records with other groups. His first three gigs (and one of those sessions) will be with the Fast Citizens, a sextet whose revolving-door leadership has fallen to Fred Lonberg-Holm; the band will first work up his compositions, which showcase him on four-string tenor guitar as well as his customary cello, at an open rehearsal at Heaven Gallery on Sat 6/18. The Aram Shelton Quartet, an ebullient two-reedist combo with fellow Fast Citizen Keefe Jackson, will also record after a show with Arrive at Elastic on Thu 6/23. And Shelton will wrap up this visit on Tue 6/28 at the Whistler with a new quartet: trombonist Jeb Bishop, bassist Anton Hatwich, and drummer Mike Reed. —Bill Meyer