Aram Shelton & Håkon Berre — Bygning G (self-released, 2017)
It didn’t take long for Aram Shelton to get to work, musically, after moving to Copenhagen last fall. Bygning G came out in February, teaming up the former Bay Area saxophonist with Danish drummer Håkon Berre.
Berre is part of the Scandanavian creative music scene (here’s a sample), so he pairs nicely with Shelton on this album of mid-length improvisations, each of which explors a few different moods.
“Shelton Berre 1” opens in a relaxed vibe, building into a steady flow of jazzy ideas from Shelton, backed by a torrent from Berre. His drums aren’t too “up front” in the mix, which means he’s able to provide a current of energy without overwhelming the sound.
The track later gets into scratching and scraping — a more sparse sound but keeping the same propulsive pace.
“2” is a careful and quiet exploration that eventually blossoms, with Shelton delivering choppy statements against Berre’s clatter.
The opening of “3” includes some of my favorite playing on the album — active but casual, with Berre quickly going to the snare drum to add some heat.
The rest of “3” turns quiet and experimental, ending with air-through-the-horn sounds and a percussive rustle like gentle rainfall.
“4” opens tumultuously, with Berre showing a subtle touch even amid a raging din. After a long, thoughtful middle, the track ends with Shelton in a spiritual stream-of-consciousness state with Berre’s drums sounding ritualistic yet frantic.
In addition to being a good listen on its own, Bygning G has spurred me to explore Berre’s Barefoot Records label. In addition to improv, there’s some interesting jazz on there. Berre’s resume also includes the interesting punk/surf/prog band HÄRJA (aggressive music with a sense of humor and odd time signatures — you can have a listen on Soundcloud).