Andy Sheppard Quartet
Andy Sheppard tenor and soprano saxophones
Eivind Aarset guitar
Michel Bonita double bass
Sebastian Rochford drums
Recorded April 2017, Auditorio Stelio Molo RSI, Lugano
Engineer: Stefano Amerio
Produced by Manfred Eicher
Release date: February 16, 2018
Saxophonist Andy Sheppard’s quartet with guitarist Eivind Aarset, bassist Michel Benita and drummer Sebastian Rochford pulls out threads from this album’s predecessor and from them weaves an even more seamless tapestry.
Once again, Aarset proves an integral presence, adding (in Sheppard’s words) an “orchestral voice,” which percolates as life-giving water through soil. On “Thirteen,” one of seven tunes penned by the bandleader, swells of guitar move with a grace rarely encountered since, appropriately enough, Terje Rypdal’s contributions to Ketil Bjørnstad’s The Sea. The title track, by Brazilian songwriter Renato Teixeira, is a vessel drifting on the waves that surround it. Its contours, graceful as they are melodic, accommodate Benita and Rochford’s infusions like sail to wind.
“Pop” returns to native lyricism, once again highlighting Aarset’s textural relief with aching regard. “They Came From The North” delineates yet another altar for this intuitive rhythm section, whose attention to detail swings from guitar strings into Sheppard’s sunlight. The tenderness of “With Every Flower That Falls,” written as part of a live soundtrack to Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, sashays with all the monochromatic charm it can muster, turning silence into song and leaving “All Becomes Again” to dance as if alone in the dawn, holding onto last night’s dream with the conviction of someone newly in love.
All of this is cloaked in “Forever And A Day,” two takes of which frame the album in an aquatic ellipsis. With an atmospheric integrity made possible only by such a combination of musicians, engineer (hat tip to the great Stefano Amerio in Lugano) and producer Manfred Eicher at the helm, the port of your listening may just feel emptier than you ever imagined without its docking.
(This review originally appeared in the March 2019 issue of The New York City Jazz Record, a full PDF of which is available here.)