Incline at Gapplegate

Nordeson Shelton is Aram Shelton on alto sax and Kjell Nordeson on drums. Incline (Singlespeed Music 009) is a set of freely improvised pieces by the duo. They found themselves working together in the San Francisco Bay area around 2005, first in a quartet on the Clean Feed album Cylinder, thereafter as the duo Nordeson Shelton.

Nordeson’s drumming and his kit expand the usual sound parameters with an interesting array of metalic objects, small drums and large, and some trashy sorts of cymbals among the usual ones. He sets up interesting backdrops and counterlines to Aram’s alto which has a creatively dry sound. Aram in turn creates less-standard sorts of lines than the usual free-horn barrages, though he is not above applying some heat at times.

Nordeson Shelton show originality and imagination on this one. It may sway a little towards the new music side of the nm-jazz spectrum but it doesn’t short-change immediacy in the process. A promising beginning. Indispensible? No. Interesting? Yes.

Original post at Gapplegate

Incline at All About Jazz

The avant-garde schema is sort of an open-world platform where almost anything goes. But Incline is an album that sheds a radiant light on the sax-drums duo format, featuring an inordinate degree of textural components and a seamless integration of two like-minded artists, performing on similar planes. Here, Swedish drummer Kjell Nordeson and American alto saxophonist Aram Shelton opt for a reclusive setting, tucked away in the mountains at a cabin in Lake Tahoe, NV. Perhaps all or most distractions were eliminated during the recording process, resulting in a comprehensive program, as depth, space, and power attain a synchronous plane.

The music offers a semi-structured outlook amid various detours via the duo’s focused game-plan. Shelton’s gritty sax lines often parallel Nordeson’s polyrhythmic patterns, asymmetrical pulses, and colorific use of cymbals. Moreover, the drummer tunes his kit within a range that mirrors Shelton’s tonaities, which is a factor that projects a tightly aligned forum.

Nordeson and Shelton generate a myriad of pulsating grooves to complement various breakouts. However, the oscillating dynamic rides atop a buoyant ebb and flow. For example, on “Village,” Shelton closes out with an abstract tribal groove, based on a screeching and spiraling plaintive cry. Yet they intersperse minimalist type passages throughout the session, enhanced by Nordeson’s ethereal cymbals treatments, yielding an uncanny sense of lyricism.

“Grade” is a piece centered on free-form sound-shaping and is fragmented by the duo’s unhurried line of attack, engineered on cavernous sounds, flirtatious dialogues, counterpoint and jaunty underpinnings. They also manage to build contrasting layers to inject a tiered perspective into the big picture partly due to Shelton’s subtle and fractured phrasings. Moving forward, the musicians’ micro-themes and gradual tension building episodes are countered by tumultuous rhythmic passages, and a nonconforming mode of operations. Thus, many of these aspects are evident on “Soles,” where a sense of urgency forecasts imagery of a life or death situation.

Shelton and Nordeson run on all cylinders but temper the currents to extract worldly views by purveying numerous concepts and nuances throughout the moving parts. This largely kinetic session is not restricted to borders or hardcoded applications. And it’s much more than the customary free-jazz crash and burn stylizations that seems to be the customary mode of discourse these days. Simply stated, there’s a whole lot going on under the hood.

Originally published at All About Jazz

Incline at JazzWrap

Aram Shelton has been one of my favourite discoveries over the last few years. There’s a forcefulness and deep intuitiveness to his performances that has always amazed me.

Kejell Nordeson is a terrific and inventive drummer whom I have followed since his days with Swedish outfit Aaly Trio (due to their recordings with Ken Vandermark).

It’s no really surprise that these two creative forces finally found each other with their group Cylinder. The two minds are on a very distinct and similar wavelength.

While Cylinder is an improv masterclass, the duo’s project, Incline (Singlespeed Music) is more a free-thinking sprawling yet very honed study of personal interplay. “Village” is an incredible opening track. A torrent of sound on par with David S. Ware/Andrew Cyrille. The piece builds rapidly as the two scream back and forth with notes that peel the skin from your eardrum. Fun, eh?!?

“Orbit” is more a solo outing for Nordeson as he picks, clangs, taps and pounds notes from the ether. Beautiful and investigating, it all flows nicely into “Test”, a melodic piece that is percussive and emotional. Led by heavy, deep undertones from Shelton and Nordeson create a blossoming atmosphere that fills the space yet is completely free of structure.

“Rig” sees Shelton in the solo role. Here stretching and constructing notes paint a slow moving Jackson Pollack-esque picture. The piece is short but moves nicely into “Soles,” a mountain of a piece that rips the top off of everything. Shelton and Nordeson seems to be in a completely higher plane. The piece gets louder and louder with the two seemingly melding into one until a gentle all-halt.

Incline is an album of multi-layered complexity. The unity between the Nordeson and Shelton is very apparent through each note. This is the duo that was long in the making but we are better off for it. Incline is another keen masterpiece in the history of both Aram Shelton and Kjell Nordeson.

Incline at DMG Newsletter

“There is something special going on here. It seems obvious to me that this duo have been playing together for a while since their is an assured connection between what they are playing. Fractured phrases, jumpy yet tight, rhythmically and melodically the duo are often playing similar patterns together as one. Like a spastic dance, both parties jump through hoops of fire time and again, balancing on the head of a pin. The first time I played this in the store, I was distracted by buisness and couldn’t quite hear the connection. Now, it makes perfect sense. Each of the nine pieces explores a different mood or series of texture or strategies. Mr. Nordeson seems to focus on a certain area of his drum set or a certain evolving pattern, establishing the odd groove or pulse or something close enough to follow. Mr. Shelton does something similar, twisting his sax sounds into odd shapes and then slowly manipulating them until they become something else. Over the past few years instrumental duos have become more popular and musicians continue to explore a wide variety of combinations. This particular duo, Nordeson Shelton, is one of the best ones I’ve heard. Nothing here is overdone or overwhelming. It all fits just right.” – Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery

Original post at DMG Newsletter