gig illustrates one of the two essential musical services Bill Kyle
saw The Bridge Jazz Bar providing when he opened the venue at the
end of April.
As well as offering a platform for Scottish jazz talent six nights
and two lunchtimes a week, Kyle saw an opportunity for Americans to
take up short-term residency en route to Ronnie Scott's in London
or elsewhere in Europe.
Thus the music's aficionados have been given five
chances to hear the Los Angeles-based saxophonist Bob Sheppard, and
on the opening night's evidence they'd be well advised to catch him
before he moves on to Scott's when his stopover ends on Sunday. Sheppard
was last heard in Scotland in a rousing, hang-on-to-your-seats Glasgow
Jazz Festival session with guitarist Mike Stern in 1996. He took things
easier here, revealing a softer, lighter tenor tone than jousting
with Stern requires and allowing the specially convened quartet, featuring
his fellow countryman, bassist Jeff D'Angelo, alongside pianist Steve
Hamilton and mine host, Kyle, on drums, to settle with a few well-known
tunes, if not necessarily in their usual guises.
How Deep is the Ocean found the articulate
Hamilton and the splendid D'Angelo forming a tight pairing on a tricky,
customised riff, and a bossa nova-style Body and Soul highlighted
Sheppard's attractive, neatly formed soloing style in a manner akin
to Joe Henderson's.
Imaginative and resourceful, as befits a musician
who has met Steely Dan's stringent demands, Sheppard also plays fine
flute and lyrical soprano and his partnership with Hamilton, now living
in Edinburgh after sojourns in London and Sofia, promises to be very
productive indeed. --Rob Adams.