Gracefully human moments contrast with digital video game syncopation on the Brad Shepik Trio's new album Places You Go
. Hammond B3 organist Gary Versace and drummer Tom Rainey join the guitarist on the ten-track journey through quiet times that nod at nostalgia, to full on jam rock ballyhoo.
hepik's gorgeous tone and intricate skill reverberate with a dusty, American open-road mentality on slow tracks like "Five and Dime . You can almost feel the breath of each player as small escalations build and release into soulful, satiated languor. "Return recalls an image of moonlight reflected off a Hawaiian cove as Shepik's surf chords fall into the shimmer of Versace's organ. Each note the guitarist touches glows with aching poignancy.
The balance the group maintains as each player subconsciously gauges his place at any given moment, moving aside, or taking the lead with brisk reactionary skill, aids in the success of the album. "Temoin, the opening track, leads with a buoyancy that sets an immediate tone. Versace's organ adds pockets of pizzazz with bursts of chords that intersperse Shepik's steady guitar progression. Rainey hoists the group up a few notches with a fresh, steady energy.
The import of each player is recognized, as is the mutual respect that lies amongst thema critical attribute to have when tunes like "Crossing enter complex grounds. Shepik and Versace wind meticulous passages around each other, playing in counterpoint to Rainey's multi-leveled drumming for an entirely unnatural sound, pulled off with apparent ease. Aside from showcasing the group's skill as players and their great ability to play well together, the track illustrates success on other levels, most notably Shepik's competence as a composer and the trio's ability to make those compositions their own.
Somehow, though they were written at various times in different locales around the world, the tracks on Places You Go
fit well together, following a clear transition that gives rise to higher levels of recklessness as the album progresses. Named for a Balinese volcano, the metered, metronomic music of "Batur hints at gamelan before getting swept up in a cataclysm of rock grandeur. Versace maintains a bass line while adding flourishes of jagged organ that roughen up Shepik's solo. It's prodding like this that sets a group apart and makes an album that's more than just another really good jazz fusion disc.