Saxophonist and former Chicagoan Aram Shelton is back in town and playing better than ever

Early experiences count for a lot. After reedist Aram Shelton moved to Chicago in 1999, fresh out of college, he became an integral part of an interdependent community of jazz musicians who were ready to realize one another’s concepts. Shelton left town in 2005, but he’s continued his practice of embedding himself in a scene, spending years in Oakland, Copenhagen, and Budapest. He’s always made it a point to return to Chicago, though. Since pulling up stakes in Hungary last year, he’s visited the eastern seaboard and Mexico City, but he’s also spent substantial time here, making new connections and rekindling old ones. The Aram Shelton Quartet, which includes bassist Anton Hatwich, drummer Tim Daisy, and tenor saxophonist Keefe Jackson, showcases his intricate writing and his adroit responsiveness to other musicians’ improvisations. The quartet has made two strong albums, 2011’s These Times and 2012’s Everything for Somebody, but prior to a reunion gig in March of this year they hadn’t performed for a decade. During that time, Shelton’s sound on the alto saxophone—his most enduring choice of horn—has grown deeper and more probing, and he’s also changed his compositional approach. In a recent email, he explained that the new material he’s writing for the group “will serve as destination points for improvisations, rather than head/improv/head structures.”

Aram Shelton Quartet, Sat 6/11, 8:30 PM, Constellation, 3111 N. Western, $15, 18+

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