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Brad Shepik Quartet

by David Greenberger on May 4, 2011

Across the Way
Such is the shadow cast by Gary Burton’s quartets of the ’60s and early ’70s that any foursome of vibes, electric guitar, bass and drums can be seen as riding across a Burton ponderosa. Guitarist Brad Shepik’s quartet have compositional passages that merit comparisons but, since Burton rarely wrote, it is to Swallow, Bley, Gibbs, et al. That said, Across the Way is a wholly engaging set, rich with a sense of travel. While Shepik leads the ensemble and wrote the 11 pieces, the quartet are a well-balanced unit, each of the four members contributing equally to the sonic character. (The other three being vibraphonist Tom Beckham, string bassist Jorge Roeder and drummer Mark Guiliana.)

From the evocative drama of the opening title track to the closing “Train Home,” the moods vary from folkish reveries to crystalline expanses, festively strutting parades, atmospheric carousels, and gently funky surprises. Burton may have been many people’s introduction to this particular instrumental configuration, but Shepik’s quartet resonantly demonstrates that it’s a format worthy of continued exploration and celebration.