Larry Ochs-Aram Shelton Quartet’s ‘Continental Drift’ to benefit Stacey Abrams’ Fair Fight


Friday, August 7—Tenor and sopranino saxophone composer and improviser Larry Ochs and Aram Shelton have joined forces to release a new collaborative offering, titled Continental Drift (Clean Feed). For this release, Ochs, a Bay Area artist who’s been breaking new musical ground since the 1970s with Rova Saxophone Quartet, and Chicago-based composer and alto saxophonist Shelton go track for track leading drummer Kjell Nordeson and bass players Mark Dresser and Scott Walton—Nordeson plays on tracks 1-3 and 5-7, and Dresser hits on 4 and 8—through an undulating terrain of sax solos and drawn-out of rhythmic bouts, channeling tension, anxiety, and elation into a swirl of worldly skronk and nuanced free jazz.

Over the next 24 hours, Bandcamp is waiving fees, giving 100% of the day’s proceeds to the artists. Until midnight Pacific Time Ochs is donating all proceeds from Continental Drift’s Bandcamp sales to Stacey Abrams’ Fair Fight campaign to combat voter suppression.

As Ochs says in an email, “Everyone has the right to vote. And this time around everyone should be encouraged to do just that. The protests will be for naught if Moscow Mitch is still running the Senate in 2021.”

The Fictive Five (Less One Live): Forget Reality, Larry Ochs talks composition and structured improvisation

The Fictive Five photo by Petra Cvelbar

In the fall of 1969, Larry Ochs was bouncing between majors at the University of Pennsylvania, while working as a college radio DJ at 88.5 FM/WXPN. “I was a rock guy back then, I liked Jimi Hendrix,” he says. “The station had an incredible jazz collection but at the time I didn’t know much about jazz.”

One afternoon, word spread that a ‘pretty far out band’ was playing in a decommissioned church not far from WXPN’s studio. As Ochs recalls, most of the staff was going to the show, so he went too.

What he encountered there was none other than the Sun Ra Arkestra. The ceiling was so low, he remembers, that the performers couldn’t stand all the way up without bumping their heads.

“All that power was happening in this tiny church basement,” he says. “Being there, witnessing that performance really changed my life. I didn’t get what the hell was going on, but I sure wanted to go back. There were dancers running through the crowd because there was no room for them on stage,” he adds. “The whole experience made the world move under my feet.” Read the full feature story at The Chattanooga Pulse.

The Fictive Five plays three shows on its current run through the Southeast: On Tuesday, March 4 at Timucua Arts Foundation Orlando, Florida, at Chattanooga, Tennessee’s Barking Legs Theatre on Thursday, March 5, and at Hendershots in Athens, Georgia on Friday, March 6.