UK saxophonist Andy Sheppard's second ECM album introduces his freely lyrical new trio with Michel Benita and Sebastian Rochford. All three players share a sense of stylistic open-mindedness. Drummer Rochford is one of the young players changing perceptions of British jazz with bands Polar Bear and Acoustic Ladyland, while Algiers-born French bassist Benita, who cites Charlie Haden and Scott LaFaro as influences, has played with Archie Shepp, Dewey Redman, Lee Konitz and in the ELB trio with Nguyên Lê and Peter Erskine.
Repertoire here includes originals by Sheppard, Benita and Rochford, plus group improvisations and the standard 'I'm Always Chasing Rainbows'. In all contexts, interaction is highly creative, as Benita and Rochford respond perceptively to Sheppard's melodically and rhythmically inventive lines. Although Sheppard set up a residency for the trio at Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh early in 2009, to explore the group's creative potential and to develop repertoire, this debut album was not recorded until July 2011 at Auditorio Radiotelevisione Svizzera, Lugano.
While Andy Sheppard has recorded extensively with Carla Bley for the ECM-distributed WATT label, he recorded his first ECM leader date in 2008. Movements In Colour, featuring an international line-up with John Parricelli and Eivind Aarset on guitars, Arild Andersen on bass, and Kuljit Bhamra on tabla, was acclaimed by the press and became a bestseller in Britain.
Personnel: Andy Sheppard (tenor and soprano saxophones), Michel Benita (double-bass), Sebastian Rochford (drums)
(4 stars) An album of stately elegance and beauty...flows gracefully from one track to the next...a truly gorgeous piece of music-making. -- Jazzwise, (Duncan Heining), February 2012
(4 stars) Each track is a delight of swaying tempos, unresolved tensions and subtle textures. -- Financial Times, (Mike Hobart), February 18, 2012
(4 stars) Land Of Nod has Sheppard tooting a lovely, dancing theme you'll find yourself whistling after a few listens. -- Metro, (Robert Shore), January 30, 2012
(4 stars) This co-op trio puts Sheppard on a whole new level...there's a lovely, oblique version of "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows". -- The Independent On Sunday, (Phil Johnson), February 5, 2012
(5 stars) Full of melody, character and spontaneous empathy...a masterclass in imparting ambiguity and depth to the smallest sounds. -- The Guardian, (John Fordham), February 10, 2012
The music's very understated, elegant, often folksong-like and atmospheric..Trio Libero reveals more charms and more depth of interest with every play. -- The Sunday Herald, (Rob Adams), March 4, 2012