All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

197

Brad Shepik: Human Activity Suite

By

Sign in to view read count
Brad Shepik's Human Activity Suite is a ten-part mingling of world music materials from various cultures and ecological concerns. Sponsored by Chamber Music America's New Works program, the project sees guitarist Shepik enlarging his usual trio with Gary Versace on keyboards and Tom Rainey on drums to include trumpeter Ralph Alessi and bassist Drew Gress. The result is downright orchestral; Alessi adding clarion leads to the guitarist's works as Gress thickens the already complex, underlying textures.

Seven of the pieces are named for continents and there's a certain amount of mimesis in the compositions. "Lima (South America)" has a decidedly Latin flare to its melody and rhythms, as well as Versace's idiomatic accordion and a village-band feel to Alessi's trumpet. Shepik himself doubles on tambura and electric saz, adding distinctive Indian and middle-Eastern elements, as in the Indian-tinged "Waves (Asia)," with the accordion sounding very much like a harmonium.

However, there's more going on here than a travelogue. It's the meditative richness of the music—its compelling sense of endangered cultures and the quiet intensity of its feelings—that gives this work its character. The level of playing is consistently high, with Shepik among the most articulate and quickest-witted of guitarists, able to find subtle nuance even within a concentrated electric sound. Alessi's alternately mournful and crisp lines seem to cut at the edge of meaning while Versace—playing piano, accordion and organ—goes far beyond mere orchestral color, turning in particularly strong performances on piano. Rainey's loose drumming, at once casual and vital, adds a special animation and contributes to the distinctiveness of the band's sound. A frequent use of modal underpinnings knits together Shepik's music, a sense of larger unities under the detailed and sometimes fractured surfaces. It's an effective combination of extended composition and developed group dialogue.


Track Listing: Lima (South America); Blindspot (North America); Human Activity; Stir (Antarctica); Not So Far (Australia); Current; Carbonic; Blue Marble (Africa); By a Foot (Europe); Waves (Asia).

Personnel: Brad Shepik: electric and acoustic guitars, tambura, electric saz; Ralph Alessi: trumpet; Gary Versace: piano, organ, accordion; Drew Gress: bass; Tom Rainey: drums.

Title: Human Activity Suite | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Songlines Recordings

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Hi-Res Jazz
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Quartet 1991

Quartet 1991

Songlines Recordings
2016

buy
Top Down

Top Down

Self Produced
2016

buy
Across The Way

Across The Way

Songlines Recordings
2011

buy
Human Activity Suite

Human Activity Suite

Songlines Recordings
2009

buy
Places You Go

Places You Go

Songlines Recordings
2007

buy
The Well

The Well

Songlines Recordings
2003

buy

Related Articles

Read Stillness & Sirens CD/LP/Track Review
Stillness & Sirens
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 17, 2018
Read Cycle CD/LP/Track Review
Cycle
by Ian Patterson
Published: June 17, 2018
Read Love From The Sun CD/LP/Track Review
Love From The Sun
by Chris May
Published: June 17, 2018
Read Outside My Window CD/LP/Track Review
Outside My Window
by Jerome Wilson
Published: June 17, 2018
Read New Standards CD/LP/Track Review
New Standards
by Geannine Reid
Published: June 17, 2018
Read EP 1 CD/LP/Track Review
EP 1
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 16, 2018
Read "Downtown Castles Can Never Block The Sun" CD/LP/Track Review Downtown Castles Can Never Block The Sun
by Gareth Thompson
Published: May 27, 2018
Read "The Ultimate Experience" CD/LP/Track Review The Ultimate Experience
by Chris Mosey
Published: October 10, 2017
Read "Dimebag" CD/LP/Track Review Dimebag
by Samuel Stroup
Published: December 8, 2017
Read "Viriditas" CD/LP/Track Review Viriditas
by Tyran Grillo
Published: August 24, 2017
Read "Say It" CD/LP/Track Review Say It
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: April 27, 2018
Read "Landfall" CD/LP/Track Review Landfall
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: January 14, 2018