Chip Shelton

Chip Shelton

Biography

While most musicians manage to release an album every two years or more, the industrious Shelton may be the only artist who, who in recent years, releases an album every year, alternating between studio and live recordings. The live recordings are part of a series called “Have Flute Will Travel.” Like James Brown, he is the hardest working man in show business touring before and after every project. You can credit him for his eagerness to share his music with the world and Summit Records, who released his last five albums, for sharing his unique concept. Shelton has had an impressive eight releases to date. Beginning with “A Labor Of Love” (Rise Up Records, 1995) which was recorded live at New York City’s Five Spot jazz club, and received shining reviews. A critic for Jazz Times wrote, “Shelton pushes Eddie Harris’ ‘Listen Here’ with touches of vocal sounds blending with his instrument.” Shelton’s work is an expanding jazz tapestry that drives his musical concepts while expounding on his musicianship. “Since that first CD, my music is less classically based and my improvisational construction is more open,” says Shelton. “I’m coming more from the soul as opposed to playing structure. What I’m about now shines more.” Shelton’s “shine” has always been apparent to his listening audiences. His live CD’s, (the aforementioned “Have Flute Will Travel,” series) demonstrate his dynamic live performances. On the first of the series, “Stop 1 Berlin,” Shelton and his band which includes a combination of expatriates (mostly American) and native Berlin musicians, come hard. The quartet is swinging on 10 cylinders. Everyone is mean on this one from the opening cut “Well You Needn’t” (Thelonious Monk). All seven tracks are real barn burners as Shelton swings high above the flames on his end-blown concert flute. On “Cape May Jazz Festival Stop 2,” (2 CD set) Shelton introduces another concept to the “Have Flute Will Travel” series: his working band PeaceTime that infuses a soulful stride. On the tune “Imprints,” a swinging subtle romp (penned by Shelton) he displays his talent on soprano saxophone. On Sonny Rollins’ “St. Thomas,” Shelton returns to flute while giving his band room to walk, as he belts out hip flute riffs that flow like a warm Caribbean breeze. 4 ½ stars says All Music Guide. Regardless of Shelton’s repertoire of reggae, funk or straight ahead jazz penned by such notables as John Coltrane, Freddie Hubbard, or Pharoah Sanders, he always leaves his fans and new listeners wanting more. On his latest CD, “Imbued With Memories,” Shelton makes full use of PeaceTime to showcase his skills as a composer, contributing six of the 10 tracks as he makes an impressive appearance (his third) on saxophones. “My musical options opened up when I started playing sax again,” says Shelton. Shelton always wanted to be involved in music but he graduated from Howard University’s School of Dentistry, as a back-up. While still a freshman at Howard in Washington, DC, Shelton was on a mission for a $35 saxophone. Unfortunately, his sax budget was too small but the owner of Baltimore’s North Avenue Pawn Shop convinced him to buy a nice flute. In the beginning, Shelton played by ear, then in 1988-90, he studied with John Purcell privately, and at the Manhattan School of Music, as a Jazz Flute major. Following his departure from the School of Music, he studied classical technique with Julius Baker, “the Dean of American flutists.” He also studied musicianship with Dr. Helen Hobbs Jordan. Shelton received additional mentorship at Jazzmobile, Inc. mainly from masters like Jimmy Heath and Frank Foster, and with Bill Barron at The Muse, in Brooklyn, in an effort to learn everything he could about jazz. With confidence to test his chops in front of a tough New York City audience, Shelton hit the local club scene performing at the Cellar, Birdland, the Five Spot, and other clubs. “The music has a life of its own and I just follow the muse,” said Shelton. His upcoming dates include a fall 2008 tour, portions to be recorded for projected release in early 2009.

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