Andy Sheppard, Michel Benita, Sebastian Rochford – Trio Libero (2012)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/48 kHz | Time – 00:51:41 minutes | 537 MB | Genre: Jazz
Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | @ ECM Records GmbH
Recorded: July 2011, Auditorio Radiotelevisione svizerra, Lugano

UK saxophonist Andy Sheppard’s second ECM album introduces his freely lyrical new trio with Michel Benita and Sebastian Rochford. All three players share a sense of stylistic open-mindedness. Drummer Rochford is one of the young players changing perceptions of British jazz with bands Polar Bear and Acoustic Ladyland. Algiers-born French bassist Benita, who cites Charlie Haden and Scott LaFaro as influences, has played with Archie Shepp, Dewey Redman, Lee Konitz and in the ELB trio with Nguyên Lê and Peter Erskine. Repertoire here includes originals by Sheppard, Benita and Rochford, plus group improvisations and the standard “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows.” In all contexts, interaction is highly creative, as Benita and Rochford respond perceptively to Sheppard’s melodically and rhythmically inventive lines. Recorded July 2011 at Auditorio Radiotelevisione svizzera, Lugano.

The self-titled debut recording by Trio Libero features the acoustic collective of saxophonist Andy Sheppard, bassist Michel Benita, and drummer Sebastian Rochford. The group’s name comes from a concept as stated by Sheppard: “Improvise, write it down, develop it, then replay it with fresh improvisation: a trio libero.” This is how 12 of the set’s 13 tunes were created; some of them were initially recorded during a four-day improv session in 2009 and redone for this recording, while other ideas are brand-new. Trio Libero reveals a truly adventurous group playing melodically improvised tunes that feel like formal, complete compositions; yet they move so much in their brief time frame — all but one tune here is between three and five minutes — they cannot be anything but. This set uses sometimes the smallest of sonic fragments to weave into emotionally resonant and musically sophisticated statements. On “Slip Duty,” where a seemingly haphazard mercurial head by Sheppard and Benita unfolds and disappears almost immediately, Rochford’s drums break less than a minute in, and start shifting time frames and phrasing. When Sheppard and Benita return, they have moved into a harmonic exploration of the various rhythmic patterns stated by Rochford. “Dia da Libertade” begins with a bass solo, stating fragments that become a theme before the rest of the trio enters. Sheppard uses three low-register notes on tenor, before taking it up the horn and playing right at the bass notes, while Rochford colors it with gorgeous cymbals. The two parts of “Spacewalk” are tender, almost hesitant, due to Sheppard’s long notes and the bowed bass of Benita. They’re mournful but hardly sad; on the second part, Sheppard moves to his high register and manages to wrench the most emotion from a precious few carefully placed notes. All the while, Rochford is playing his own inner-logic rhythms that add another layer of lyricism. The lone standard here, “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows,” while unmistakable with Sheppard on soprano, is also stretched to fit the group’s aesthetic. Closer “When We Live on the Stars…” carries within it a ghostly familiar yet otherworldly original lyrical line that could be an extrapolation of a timeless pop tune. The way Benita and Rochford sparingly and intuitively illustrate his melody creates a collective shimmering effect. As a label, ECM is no stranger to fine melodic improvisation from groups — Jan Garbarek’s more folkish and modal brand immediately comes to mind. However, the short, taut execution in each track by Trio Libero on this deceptively active offering points to a new model, one whose focus is finding new ways to illustrate — via restraint — seemingly soft ambiguous sounds as lyric possibilities. They succeed in spades. –AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek

1. Libertino 3:40
2. Slip Duty 3:39
3. I’m Always Chasing Rainbows 4:17
4. Spacewalk, Part 1 3:13
5. Dia da Liberdade 4:20
6. Land of Nod 3:46
7. The Unconditional Secret 4:01
8. Ishidatami 3:48
9. Skin / Kaa 6:09
10. Spacewalk, Part 2 3:50
11. Whereveryougoigotoo 3:41
12. Lots of Stairs 3:14
13. When We Live On the Stars… 4:04

Andy Sheppard: tenor and soprano saxophones
Michel Benita: double-bass
Sebastian Rochford: drums


AndySheppardMichelBenitaSebastianR0chf0rdTri0Liber020124824.rar – 553.9 MB