Here on the new ECM Records release Surrounded by Sea, tenor & soprano sax player Andy Sheppard expands on his Trio Libero unit (that also includes double bassist Michel Benita & rummer Sebastian Rochford) with the addition of guitarist Eivind Aarset. Surrounded By Sea is a mostly laid back affair, with Sheppard's melodic, breezy melodies soaring over sparse, tranquil rhythms and simmering soundscapes from Aarset. Benita takes center stage on the mysterious "Origin of Species" with some steady lead rumbles, while the quartet kicks it up a notch on the upbeat "They Aren't Perfect and Neither Am I". One of the more intriguing tracks here is "The Impossibility of Silence", as Sheppard's mournful tone takes the listener on a dreamy, alluring ride that completely sweeps you off your feet. Fans of more traditional sounding jazz will love "I See Your Eyes Before Me", and "Looking for Ornette" is obviously a tribute to the sax legend, who sadly just passed away a few days ago, shortly after this album was officially released.
Overall, Surrounded By Sea is a gentle and intimate release, and although I was looking for some more upbeat arrangements at times from the quartet, there's still plenty of lovely melodies and calm, tranquil passages here to satisfy any fan of modern jazz.
1) Tipping Point
2) I Want To Vanish
3) Aoidh, Na Dean Cadal Idir, Part 1
4) Origin of Species
5) They Aren't Perfect and Neither Am I
7) Aoidh, Na Dean Cadal Idir, Part 2
8) The Impossibility of Silence
9) I See Your Eyes Before Me
10) A Letter
11) Aoidh, Na Dean Cadal Idir, Part 3
12) Looking for Ornette