on life, music etc beyond mainstream

2018 31 Mrz

Andy Sheppard Quartet

von: Brian Whistler Filed under: Blog | TB | 4 Comments





What is it about this quartet that makes them so special and such a pleasure to listen to? First of all, it’s the chemistry. These four players know just how to play together. Total compatibility. Then I think it’s the honesty. It’s not easy to make simple music this beguiling. It’s not easy to make music this harmonically stripped down, yet so texturally complex and melodically seductive.

At first, I thought, well, it’s so diatonic I will be bored in 10 minutes. But I wasn’t. Was it Andy’s breathy lyricism, or Elvind Aarset’s magical colors? Michel Benita’s sensitive support on bass, or Seb Rochefort’s perfectly intuitive drumming? Whatever it is, I keep finding myself longing for more of this music. Listening on the trail, it reflects the beauty of the natural world, those rare states of consciousness where one experiences the direct apprehension of nature without the descriptive mind having to constantly dialogue about it. That’s what this music does: It sounds like what it is, a direct communication of beauty, reflectiveness, with occasional moments of fire amidst the immense seas of tranquility and melancholy. It’s therapeutic in that it washes the mind clean, a sound purification filter for the soul.

So I checked out the earlier, Surrounded by Sea and found a similar, inviting world. I think of them as bookends, twin worlds, or at least parallel worlds.

Living quite happily with both of these, I ask fellow manifonistas if this group has any other recordings prior to these two ECM releases, and if so, where I can find them.


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  1. Michael Engelbrecht:

    No other albums from the quartet. The starting point was the Trio Libero (on ECM, too).

  2. Michael Engelbrecht:

    „… flowing like water …“ (Manafonistas)
    Another side of Seb

  3. Martina Weber:

    Yep, it´s a sunny one. I´ve been listening to „Romaria“ for weeks. Your description hits the point. I´ll buy the other one, hoping for more stuff like this. Thanks for the hint.

  4. ijb:

    There is another Sheppard album on ECM before Trio Libero and the two beautiful quartet albums: „Movements in Colour“ was the first one under his own name, and it also includes Aarset, plus three others collaborting: John Parricelli, Arild Andersen, and Kuljit Bhamra (tabla, percussion). I loved that one a lot already before the Trio Libero came out.

    There’s going to be an album with Andy Sheppard and the Espen Eriksen Trio on Rune Grammophon soon. (Not really fan of the trio myself, but rather curious about the album because of Sheppard)

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