The Upshot: Veteran UK saxman doesn’t exercise his more energetic muscles often enough, but generates enough heat to make the next album featuring this configuration something to anticipate.
BY MICHAEL TOLAND
Though originally from the United Kingdom, veteran saxophonist Andy Sheppard has spent a great deal of his professional life outside of his home country, accumulating influences from all over. That international feel culminates in Romaria, his second album featuring French bassist Michel Benita, Norwegian guitarist Eivind Aarset and British drummer Sebastian Rochford. As with the quartet’s previous LP Surrounded By Sea, the musicians luxuriate in languid atmospheres and lush melodies, with Sheppard soloing thoughtfully over the shimmering backdrops provided by his bandmates. “With Every Flower That Falls” and album bookends “And a Day…” and “Forever…” exemplify that approach, though it reaches its apex (or, depending on your perspective, nadir) on the appropriately titled “Pop.” But other tracks feature an edge not present on the last record. “Thirteen” lets Benita and Rochford out of their cage to drive the rhythm more ruthlessly, becoming downright explosive on “They Came From the North.” Aarset also steps forward on these tunes, darkening his colors and threatening to slice through the sound with his icy tone. Sheppard’s skills sit comfortably in both sides of his personality, though it seems like he doesn’t exercise his more energetic muscles often enough. Still, Romaria generates enough heat to make the next album featuring this configuration something to anticipate.
DOWNLOAD: “They Came From the North,” “Thirteen,” “Forever…”