Herald Frequency
Edinburgh, Scotland
June 28, 2002
Bob Sheppard Quartet, the Bridge Jazz Bar, Edinburgh

THIS 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.