Many years ago, I had the pleasure of working with a guy who was just as much into music as I was. This of course didn't always make for productive use of time as we'd spend hours and hours yakking about this, that, or the other group. One of the books he loaned me (and for some reason, I've never purchased) was Pete Frame's Complete Rock Family Trees. Dear me, what a resource for discovery. Want to know all of the permutations of Fleetwood Mac and related bands both before and after the Peter Green era? With the data laid out visually, it can be quite amazing to navigate along the tendrils of even moderately famous groups.
That cross-pollination of musicians in the rock world brings to mind the parallel phenomenon in the New York City "downtown" jazz scene. There are quite a large number of recordings in my collection related to musicians such as Paul Motian, John Zorn, Dave Douglas, Bill Frisell, and Joey Baron.
Right in the middle of those interlocked downtown jazz branches is guitarist Brad Shepik. Having played with the likes of the Dave Douglas Tiny Bell Trio and Paul Motian's Electric Bebop Band, as well as groups like Babkas and Pachora, it's obvious that Shepik has a wide-ranging musical history to draw from. From slightly twisted takes on standards to avant modernizations of Middle Eastern and Eastern European musics, Shepik has not followed the usual path of a jazz guitarist.
But what of the Brad Shepik Trio? Does a 'traditional' guitar/organ/drums lineup make for traditional music? No, along with Tom Rainey on drums and Gary Versace on organ, Shepik and his clean-toned guitar take familiar instrumentation "out" in much the same way as his past involvements.
While listeners searching for music from the organ trio's past will not be disappointed — particularly on the bluesy "Five and Dime" and the pensive balladry of "Return" — the more adventurous will be be rewarded with a fine blend of idea and execution.