Fast Citizens January 2009

I’m back in Oakland now, but I’ll post what I wrote when I wrote it:

I’m sitting in Keefe Jackson’s apartment in Pilsen, listening to the rough mixes of the Fast Citizens recording session from the last two days. It’s tuesday January 27, a week after I arrived on a flight coming from Florida that happened at the same time that Barack Obama took the office of the President. It was a huge relief to know that by the time I would get into Chicago, he’d be in charge of the country.

I came to Chicago in the middle of the winter to put together music for a new Fast Citizens recording. The idea had come about back in the summer. I had talked to Keefe and Josh about the need to continue the Fast Citizens. I suggested that the next album have a new leader from within the group. Maybe because I brought it up I was picked to be the next leader. So, Aram Shelton’s Fast Citizens were born. I wrote 5 new pieces during the last week of December and spent the following week developing them and creating the parts with the idea that the clearer the ideas and notation, the easier it would be to actually pull off making a new album in a small amount of time. Over the course of the last five days we had one long rehearsal, one short rehearsal, 3 gigs and two days in the studio. Productive!

We set up three dates: the first was on Friday up in Milwaukee at Bruno Johnson’s bar called the Sugar Maple. A beautiful space on East Lincoln with a room specifically made for concerts. Fred wasn’t able to make that gig, and we had two sets to fill, so we used a good amount of material from the first album. Not having Fred there changed the dynamic of the group in a big way – he adds a vital texture to the sound of the Citizens. I was glad to have him back for the next two shows. The second was on Saturday at the Heaven Gallery in Wicker Park. We shared the bill with two duos: Ben Boye on piano with Frank Rosaly and Charles Rumback on drums with Dave Rempis. The last was Sunday night at the Hungry Brain. That night we shared with Han Bennink solo (!) and Fred Lonberg-Holm’s Valentine Trio.

Though there were many strong moments all three nights, the first two dates felt like live rehearsals, whereas the set at the Brain was a real performance, with the parts being much more internalized by everyone. The crowd that night was great too – even though we played last on the 3 set night, the room was full with plenty of listeners. Not to say that we didn’t have good turn-outs the other nights, but Sunday was the best.

In all I’m very happy with what we were able to accomplish in a short amount of time and will do all I can to make sure this album comes out sometime this year.