Guitarist Brad Shepik mines a lode of styles on his compositions. Shadow and light play through his music, and he is not averse to opening the door to let a swath of sunshine in. The mood is never static, the wheel of invention is constantly churning out ideas that surprise and delight.
Shepik wrote most of Across The Way's tunes while he was on the road, where he teamed up with vibraphonist Tom Beckham, bassist Jorge Roeder and drummer Mark Guiliana to form his first quartet. The musicians respond to his every need, the empathy between them electric, as they pick up and advance ideas to illuminate the spirit of the compositions.
The music has several influences, into which Shepik breathes his own affirmations. The acoustic intro to the title track underscores his open, linear approach. His use of space is judicious, as he lets the others come in and, in doing so, allow the song to blossom. The sensibility of the composition undergoes a change as the tempo surges and the electric guitar cuts a deeper swath. Time has been probed and altered to spin an enticing web.
"German Taco" is a sunny, playful tune. Shepik grabs the concept and lets the melody billow in a run of crystalline notes. His perception is acute, and he bends emphasis almost imperceptibly. Beckham is the perfect cohort as he saturates the melody, dancing on the notes and broadening the appeal. A crisp rhythm section adds to the impact and makes this a standout.
The closing "Train Home" is largely introspective. The mellow mood and the repeated motifs create a hypnotic aura, and with the introduction of a discernible and compelling melody the seduction is complete.
Shepik has crafted a rich sonic palette of creative brilliance.
Track Listing: Across the Way; Down the Hill; Xylo; Garden; German Taco; Marburg; Transfer; Pfaffenhofen; Mambo Terni; Your Egg Roll; Train Home.
Personnel: Brad Shepik: guitar; Tom Beckham: vibraphone; Jorge Roeder: acoustic bass; Mark Guiliana: drums.
I love jazz because next to my kids, it's the love of my life.
I was first exposed to jazz by Joe Rico from a tiny station in Niagara Falls in 1954 when I was 13.
The best show I ever attended was Maynard Ferguson who blew the roof off Massey Hall in the late 50s.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to everything you can and then listen again.