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 June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Final Concert CD/LP/Track Review The Final Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: February 19, 2017
Read Desire & Freedom CD/LP/Track Review Desire & Freedom
by Glenn Astarita
Published: February 19, 2017
Read On Hollywood Boulevard CD/LP/Track Review On Hollywood Boulevard
by Budd Kopman
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Motorman's Son CD/LP/Track Review The Motorman's Son
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 18, 2017
Read "The Edge of Visibility" CD/LP/Track Review The Edge of Visibility
by Jim Olin
Published: April 1, 2016
Read "Sedimental You" CD/LP/Track Review Sedimental You
by Jerome Wilson
Published: October 21, 2016
Read "I Go Back Home: A Story About Hoping And Dreaming" CD/LP/Track Review I Go Back Home: A Story About Hoping And Dreaming
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 21, 2016
Read "Metamorphosis" CD/LP/Track Review Metamorphosis
by James Nadal
Published: July 10, 2016
Read "Flying Machines" CD/LP/Track Review Flying Machines
by Roger Farbey
Published: August 29, 2016
Read "Westering Home" CD/LP/Track Review Westering Home
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 7, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

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!