Another Night 8:02
Continental Drift 5:24
Test Shots 7:15
The Others Dream 19:24
Tracks 1, 3, 5, 7 composed by Aram Shelton
Tracks 2, 4, 6, 8 composed by Larry Ochs
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 in town too; Kjell Nordeson was also spending a ton of time at UC 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.
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.
an early review from Bruce Gallanteer at Downtown Music Gallery:
LARRY OCHS / ARAM SHELTON QUARTET with MARK DRESSER / SCOTT WALTON / KJELL NORDESON - Continental Drift (Clean Feed 555; Portugal)
...“This is an interesting blend of musicians from alternating scenes working together, a double sax-led quartet with one of two different bassists on each date, the sessions recorded five years apart. The older session (recorded in July of 2013) featured Mark Dresser (from San Diego) on bass while the other session (from July of 2018) has Scott Walton (from L.A.) on bass. Both frontline saxists contributed four pieces each. Although originally from Florida, alto saxist, Aram Shelton, moved to Chicago, becoming an integral part of that scene before moving to Oakland, CA, where he still resides. Larry Ochs, who is a longtime member of the Rova Sax Quartet, has had several of his own bands through the many years, always choosing his collaborators wisely. Commencing with Shelton’s “Another Night”, the quartet lays back and simmers while both saxists take dreamy, laid back solos on alto (sic - tenor) and then sopranino saxes (sic - alto), building nicely but not erupting too intensely until the last section. I love Shelton’s piece, “Switch”, which has one of those sort-of South African-like melodies which I find most invigorating plus inspired solos from both saxists. Both rhythm teams here, no matter which musician is playing the bass, sounds great at playing this material. On the title track, things slow down for some great, suspense-filled sections, sublime flute and sax softly intertwine and brings us quietly back down to Mother Earth. The secret weapon here is the distinctive & powerful bass-work on Mark Dresser, throbbing at the center of the storm on several pieces. The final piece, “The Others Dream” is long (nearly 20 minutes) and covers alot of ground. L.A. bassist Scott Walton gets a chance to stretch out here and also sounds great during his solo. This piece is episodic with different connected sections and several strong sax solos at different points. This disc is one of the best efforts we’ve heard from Clean Feed recently.” - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
ARAM SHELTON is an avant jazz saxophonist, clarinetist, improviser and composer. Originally from southeast Florida, Shelton lived in Chicago from 1999 to 2005, in San Francisco from 2005 – 2015, and has since relocated to the EU, currenty residing in Budapest. He stays connected to Chicago through his Chicago Quartet, the Fast Citizens (Delmark), and Jason Adasiewicz' Rolldown (Cuneiform). His writing and playing is grounded in and influenced by the rich history of avant-jazz and free improvisation in America and Europe since the 1950s and has been documented through more than a dozen albums since 2003. In addition to the Oakland & Chicago based groups, Shelton has recently performed in California, New York and Berlin with the likes of Larry Ochs, Tony Buck, Magda Mayas, James Fei, Fred Frith, Josh Berman, Matt Bauder, Jason Ajemian, Tomas Fujiwara, Marco Eneidi, Josh Sinton, Mary Halvorson, Weasel Walter, Gino Robair, Jacob Wick, and Scott Looney. In the past he has been fortunate to perform with a wide variety of talented musicians including Ken Vandermark, Audrey Chen, Henry Grimes, Daniel Carter, Dave Rempis, Nate Wooley, Liz Albee, Rob Mazurek, Jeff Parker, Frank Gratkowski, Josh Abrams, Harris Eisenstadt, Jeb Bishop. He has performed in Europe, Canada and the United States including appearances at the Chicago Jazz Festival, the Suoni per il Popolo Festival in Montreal, and the Krakow Autumn Jazz Festival.
"As an improviser, he possesses the mind of a composer, such is the consideration he puts into his work" - All About Jazz // "Shelton plays alto with a singing sound and a wonderful way of developing juicy phrases into full-blown solos." - John Litweiler www.aramshelton.com
KJELL NORDESON is a Swedish musician residing in California. As a percussionist and drummer he has toured and played around 1200 concerts in altogether twenty-six different countries within the last twenty years. He is featured on over fifty CDs. He has worked together with musicians such as (long time collaborator) Mats Gustafsson, Peter Brötzmann, Barry Guy, Stefano Scodanibbio, Joe Morris, William Parker, Mark Dresser, Larry Ochs, Sten Sandell and many others. Kjell participated in Derek Bailey’s Company Week in London, 1990. Kjell has worked as musician and composer in numerous theatre and contemporary dance performances at Sweden’s Dramaten (Royal Dramatic Theater), Riksteatern (National Theater), Stockholm's Stadsteater (City Theater), and The Orion Theater in Stockholm.
MARK DRESSER is an internationally acclaimed bass player, improviser, composer, and interdisciplinary collaborator. A major focus has been extending the sonic and musical possibilities of the double bass through the use of unconventional amplification. A chapter on his extended techniques for contrabass, “A Personal Pedagogy,” appears in the book, ARCANA. He is documented in over one hundred recordings including nearly thirty CDs as a soloist, band-leader or co-leader. For eighteen years he lived and worked in New York City where he recorded and performed with some of the strongest personalities in contemporary music and jazz including nine years with Anthony Braxton. In 2001 he was nominated for a Grammy. He is Professor of Music at University of California, San Diego. He has also been a lecturer at Princeton University, faculty at the New School University, and Hampshire College. He is on the board of directors of the International Society of Bassists and the advisory board of International Society of Improvised Music. www.mark-dresser.com
SCOTT WALTON is a bassist and pianist whose music negotiates the terrain between jazz, free improvisation, and the classical avant-garde. He has performed in festivals and venues throughout North America and Europe in a host of collaborative contexts, and has recorded with Alex Cline, Vinny Golia, Myra Melford, Steve Adams, Nels Cline, Tim Perkis, Michael Vllatkovich, Gilbert Isbin, George Lewis, Anthony Davis, and Bobby Bradford, among many others. He currently resides in south of France.
As a member of Rova Saxophone Quartet since 1978, LARRY OCHS has made more than two-dozen CDs and 40 tours to Europe and Japan, including tours to the USSR in 1983 and 1989. He has recorded dozens of CDs with his other touring bands including the bands Maybe Monday with Fred Frith and Miya Masaoka; Larry Ochs Sax & Drumming Core, which toured Europe from 2002 – 2009, releasing five CDs between 2000 and 2017; Kihnoua, featuring Korean singer Dohee Lee, Scott Amendola and Wilbert de Joode; and Ochs-Robinson Duo (2013- present).
Most recent bands: Spectral: a trio of Dave Rempis- Darren Johnston-Larry Ochs; The Fictive Five. (with Nate Wooley, Ken Filiano, Pascal Niggenkemper and Harris Eisenstadt); Cleaver-Cline-Ochs (Gerald Cleaver, Nels Cline, Ochs); Jones Jones: Mark Dresser, Vladimir Tarasov, Ochs. ... He has performed with Kronos Quartet, Glenn Spearman, Wadada Leo Smith, John Zorn, Marilyn Crispell, Steve Lacy, Anthony Braxton, Satoko Fujii + Natsuki Tamura, John Lindberg, Lisle Ellis, Andrew Cyrille, Butch Morris, George Lewis, Henry Kaiser, Peggy Lee, and many other
Luminaries of the Improvised Music world. www.ochs.cc