Andy Sheppard for years has been known as much for his sideman work with the great Carla Bley as he is for his own, still often adored however overshadowed, records. Here, in what might seem at times an amiable and accessible selection but proves just as often a dark record the blues along the way provide a glimmer of calm that transform into intimate often black as night interiors, his role is more significant than ever.
Bley's vastly influential sound tunnels back to the deep jazz past and yet she still has one foot in the present given how adept she is at delivering a sense of abstract contemplation that is very now and unsoiled by oversentimentality. The 'Beautiful Telephones' suite is at the heart of this latest album. Make a beeline there but the album holds up throughout.
The rapport that she has with her husband and long time bass guitarist Steve Swallow and that extends to Sheppard as a kind of orator for her compositional ideas you couldn't buy as it isn't for sale. The Englishman is mood setter in chief and excels the more elegiac he becomes. The architect as always however is Bley whose only raw material is as natural as song. SG. Out now on ECM.
Photo above: Geoff Andrew.