197

Brad Shepik: Human Activity Suite

By

Sign in to view read count
Brad Shepik: Human Activity Suite 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.

Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Songlines Recordings | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read This Is Nate Najar CD/LP/Track Review This Is Nate Najar
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Joy Comes Back CD/LP/Track Review Joy Comes Back
by James Nadal
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Apocalypse CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse
by Julian Derry
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "City Colors" CD/LP/Track Review City Colors
by Tyran Grillo
Published: April 28, 2016
Read "Stripped" CD/LP/Track Review Stripped
by James Nadal
Published: August 22, 2016
Read "Shipwreck 4" CD/LP/Track Review Shipwreck 4
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 13, 2016
Read "Live At The Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival" CD/LP/Track Review Live At The Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival
by Roger Farbey
Published: December 23, 2016
Read "Goran Ivanovic Trio" CD/LP/Track Review Goran Ivanovic Trio
by Budd Kopman
Published: May 1, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!