Home » Jazz Articles » Brad Shepik Quartet: Across the Way

348

Album Review

Brad Shepik Quartet: Across the Way

By

Sign in to view read count
Brad Shepik Quartet: Across the Way
The opening strains to Brad Shepik's Across the Way—repeated six-string figures of wistful longing, tending toward melancholy, with strains redolent of Radiohead's OK Computer (Capitol, 1997)—signal that the guitarist is exploring darker, more insular spaces than on his previous effort, Human Activity Suite (Songlines, 2009). To be sure, that work, which takes on global climate change and humanity's active role within the growing disaster, could hardly be labeled trivial or lighthearted. But Shepik's tone and the music as a whole is brighter, even if that brightness often takes on the character of shrill alarm.

With a new lineup of musicians for Across the Way, Shepik has jettisoned the trumpet, piano and organ; opting, instead, for the sparse etheriality of Tom Beckham's vibraphone. Shepik limits himself largely to electric guitar, shedding the tambura and electric saz from Human Activity. Bassist Jorge Roeder and drummer Mark Guiliana round out the quartet. The result is a lyrical remembrance—and celebration—of things past.

The contrapuntal harmony of Shepik's rich, deep tone and Beckham's dreamlike flights guides much of the record, giving it the fully fleshed dynamic of substantive nostalgia, of reflecting not from a staid position of regret, but from a train bulleting forward, recalling with the appropriate mix of joy, sadness, confirmation and uncertainty, the roads already traveled. There exists, of course, the stretching of heartstrings that the opening title track portends: "Xylo," "Garden" and "Pfaffenhofen." But the album is hardly an all-out weeper; even the most wistful of moments are saved from sentimentality by the quartet's tough, grounded drive. Numbers like the Bavarian-tinged "German Taco," the thumping "Mambo Terni" and the jumping, playful "Your Egg Roll," invites the call to dance (or, at least, chug the head up and down, back and forth).

Throughout, Shepik traverses a wonderfully inviting course, with crisp, questioning guitar lines that might as easily shift into biting fits of joy as drift into echoing fields of pensiveness. And there always to counter and complement him is Beckham, who displays an equal fluidity in blending sharp emphasis and languorous drift. The pair is galvanized by the terse, shock-solid undercarriage laid down by Roeder and Guiliana. This is most certainly a group effort, but one that pushes its leader Shepik into the fast lane of musicians communicating something both universally vital and intensely personal.

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.

Album information

Title: Across The Way | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Songlines Recordings

Post a comment about this album


FOR THE LOVE OF JAZZ
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

WE NEED YOUR HELP
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

Tags

More

Vibes on a Breath
Ted Piltzecker
Humanoid
Rachel Eckroth
Nine Rivers
John Blum
Eclectic
Jonathan Karrant

Popular

Double Portrait
Giuseppe Millaci and the Vogue Trio
Pharoah (Box Set)
Pharoah Sanders
Afro Futuristic Dreams
Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids
Dynamic Maximum Tension
Darcy James Argue's Secret Society

On the record

Vibes on a Breath
Ted Piltzecker
Eclectic
Jonathan Karrant
Brazilian Match
Luiz Millan
Double Portrait
Giuseppe Millaci and the Vogue Trio

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.