The WellSGL 1531-2
“…enthralling…It’s apparent that Shepik hears jazz in its truest multicultural sense.”
The follow-up to his critically acclaimed debut The Loan (Songlines, 1997) finds Brad Shepik at once both deeper in the music of the Balkans, Middle East and North Africa, and deeper in his own style. “The Flood” shifts effortlessly through 5/4, 19/8 and 9/8; it’s followed by the electric saz-soaked “Zephyr”. “The Well” features the subtle and dynamic rhythmic interplay of Mike Sarin’s drums and the dumbek of Seido Salifoski. Skuli Sverrisson’s virtuosic bass work opens “Quiver of Veils” (10/8), setting the tone for Peter Epstein’s soaring soprano saxophone. Shepik’s unique saz phrasing is heard on the hypnotic, Moroccan-tinged “Asilah”, while in a change of pace he employs an archtop acoustic for “Might Could”, a lyrical duet based in western melody and harmony. Group interplay shines on the 9/8 “Vapor Oro”, and “The Flower and the Bee” finishes with an extended jam. The Well furthers the application of a jazz aesthetic to the music of Eastern Europe and beyond.
One the most accomplished jazz guitarists on the New York scene, Shepik has studied Balkan, Greek, North and West African, Turkish, Arabic and Persian folk music for many years and integrated their modes and dance rhythms into his work with Dave Douglas’s Tiny Bell Trio, Pachora, Matt Darriau’s Pardox Trio, and BABKAS, and a new trio, Tridruga (with Yuri Lemeshev, accordion, and Tony Scherr, bass, CD on Loveslave).
Peter Epstein grew up in Portland and studied jazz, Balkan, Indian and West African music at the California Institute of the Arts. He leads his own Quartet (Staring at the Sun and The Invisible), and has released a solo saxophone disc (Solus), a project with Mark Feldman and Ralph Alessi (Idée Fixe), and duos with Miroslav Tadic (Without Words), and Marcelo Zarvos (Dualism, all on M•A Recordings). He co-leads Tronzo Granelli Epstein (Crunch, Loveslave), and a trio with Alessi and Michael Cain (Phfew, M•A, and Circa, ECM). He also performs/records with Ralph Alessi’s Modular Theatre, Jerry Granelli and Badlands (Songlines), and Pete McCann.
Born in Reykjavik, Skuli Sverrisson graduated from Berklee College, and has appeared on over 30 records with Icelandic artists including Mo Boma (CDs on Extreme). He toured with Allan Holdsworth from ’91 to ‘96 (Hard Hat Area, Restless), is a member of Pachora and Chris Speed’s Yeah No (Songlines), and is currently collaborating and touring with Laurie Anderson in her mixed media piece Songs and Stories from Moby Dick. His solo record (Sermonie, Extreme) features tape compositions “taking audio snapshots of the interior architecture of sound,” combining electronics and extended techniques for the electric bass; other CDs include electronic compositions with clarinetist Anthony Burr (Desist, Staalplaat) and Theo Bleckmann/Ben Monder’s No Boat (Songlines). He has also performed and/or recorded with Geraldo Nunez, Peter Scherrer, and Susan McKeown.
Michael Sarin is originally from Seattle. Since moving to New York he has performed and/or recorded with Ray Anderson, Tim Berne, Thomas Chapin, Marty Ehrlich, Mark Helias, Lee Konitz, Bobby Previte, Ned Rothenberg, and John Zorn. He is currently touring and recording with Anthony Coleman’s Sephardic Tinge, the Dave Douglas String Group, and Myra Melford’s The Same River, Twice.
Macedonian-born Seido Salifoski plays music from his Rom (Gypsy) lineage as well as Turkish, Yugoslavian, Albanian, Greek, and klezmer traditions. He is the foremost dumbek player in the New York area and has performed and/or recorded with Ivo Papasov, Yuri Yunakov, and Goksel Kartal. He is also a member of the Paradox Trio.
“Taking a cue from his work with the Paradox Trio, guitarist Brad Shepik continues to delve into Balkan and Middle Eastern sounds on this follow-up to 1997’s The Loan…Tracks like ‘The Flood,’ ‘Zephyr,’ and ‘Vapor Oro’ zip along with head-spinning odd meters and fast unison melodies — very similar to the Paradox Trio. ‘The Well’ is a little calmer, giving Shepik a chance to display his rich tone on the archtop acoustic…On several tracks Shepik employs the saz, a balkan stringed instrument with a ghostly timbre. But in stark contrast to the unfamiliar sound of the saz, Shepik offers up ‘Might Could,’ a multitracked acoustic guitar etude with moments that could be classed as McCartney-esque. Shepik’s got the mind of a pioneer. The rhythmic complexity of his compositions has few parallels in jazz — or any other genre, for that matter. With all his exotic influences, and all his different axes, he makes us rethink what it means to be a guitarist and a musician.” — David R. Adler, AllAboutJazz.com
“…skillful music performed with taste, precision, and a relaxed sophistication. The confident sound is beguiling…” — Wally Shoup, Amazon.com
****1/2 “…an appealing musical hybrid with inventive playing, composing, and arranging throughout…Every tune is a winner on this standout recording. ‘Zephyr,’ with traditional Turkish themes performed on alto sax and saz over an infectious up-tempo groove, is a particularly strong track…At over 14 minutes, [‘The Flower and the Bee’] has a jam band quality with spacy interludes and rhythms that loosen and tighten before accelerating to a frenzied pace at the track’s close. The production packs a strong punch…The Well is strong, vital, and insistent, well suited to active listening or even hitting the dancefloor.” — Dave Lynch, Allmusic.com
**** “For several years now, guitarist Brad Shepik has been avidly exploring Balkan and Middle Eastern grooves — with difficult, non-Western meters as a venue for expressive improvisation…The Well continues this trend with the freshness, flair and abandon of a well-honed unit just off the road. Such highly integrated, finely tuned, yet spontaneous group composition is welcome, indeed…Shepik’s melodic invention on guitar, tambura and saz is driving, forceful and full of nice surprises…Both jam band and hardcore jazz fans can find a way into this music.” — Down Beat
“…deep, mysterious, and worth getting lost in…The music is elastic and wound up tight at the same time…[Shepik and Epstein] send searing solos through the wall of sound.” — Rhythm