Friday, December 03, 2010
BOB SHEPPARD - CLOSE YOUR EYES
Bob Sheppard is joined by either Alan Pasqua or John Beasley doubling on piano and organ, bassist Gabe Noel, drummer Antonio Sanchez, and percussionist Walter Rodriguez with two guest appearances apiece by trumpeter Alex Sipiagen and guitarist Larry Koonse. Close Your Eyes begins with the title cut, a veteran standard that Sheppard's inventive arrangement and restrained yet often-explosive solo make sound brand new. “Surface Tension,” which has a major role for Koonse's guitar, is a well disguised reworking of “What's New.” Another swing era ballad, “Goodbye” (which was Benny Goodman's closing theme song), is given an introspective yet emotional treatment by Sheppard. The other selections include the complex yet catchy “Brain Fog,” the playful “Fast Company” (a perfect showcase for Sheppard's soprano), the quietly spooky “Phantoms,” “Lightness” (which is full of inner heat), Joe Henderson's “Gazelle” which sounds like the soundtrack to an African adventure, and the brooding strut “All In A Row.” The musicians excel at exploring unusual song structures and creating original ideas. Sheppard's mellow tone establishes the mood for these thoughtful pieces, and his solos set a high bar for his sidemen to match.