With Courtney Pine, British saxophonist Sheppard has been rated world class for long enough to get bored with the tag. This year his new quintet sound uses tablas and percussion in place of a conventional drumkit to realise tunes that Sheppard wrote on guitar for the first time. As a result there's an extra punch and accessibility to the rhythms, and a decidedly sexual fragrance in the air, while touring well off the beaten track in Africa and India has brought a infectious, tropical richness to the melodies as well.
Sheppard's own bedroom-eyed, passionate yet lyrical sound remains intact and Colin Town's lush production could reward his new label with a sizeable hit. Meanwhile Steve Lodder's gorgeous keyboards and Chris Laurence's velvety double bass would fill a hole the size of the Albert Hall.
TRACK LISTING:Natural Calling, Just Below the Surface, Peshwari, Learning to Wave, Almost Sophia, A Certain Lift, Joined At The Hip, Bye Bye, Quiet Corners.
PERSONNEL:Andy Sheppard - tenor and soprano sax, Steve Lodder - keys , Chris Laurence - double bass, John Parricelli - guitar, Paul Clarvis - percussion, tabla, Sharda Sahai - tablas.