Deep-blue oceans, airbrushed clouds, flaking dabs of greens receding into desolate plains... Remember the first time you saw a picture of the Earth? Remember that feeling?. The quintet sticks a pin on each the seven continents and peppers its worldly excursion of three programmatic pieces about the factors and effects of climate change. Making the trip with Shepik and uber-creative pianist Versace are veterans bassist Drew Gress and drummer Tom Rainey, as well as trumpeter Ralph Alessi, whose pungent, brassy tone blends rather well with the leader's Dave Fiuczynski-reminiscent approach to guitar sound and playing.
Led by German trombonist Nils Wogram, the creative jazz quartet Root 70 was formed in 2000. All four bandmembers were born (or, as the group's name suggests, rooted) in the '70s – two in Germany and two in New Zealand – and their performing and recording careers have included a number of international collaborations. Beginning with his 1994 debut disc recorded in New York, Wogram has released over 20 albums as a leader or co-leader in a wide variety of settings ranging from post-bop to free improvisation, collaborating with the NDR Bigband and helming such ensembles as his Septet, his Quartet, and his Nostalgia threesome.
The irrepressible Dave Douglas delivers another installment in the life of the Tiny Bell Trio, which features his own inimitable trumpet style, but the rhythmic invention of Jim Black on drums, and Brad Shepik's emotionally vulnerable yet volatile guitar playing. Where previous Tiny Bell outings have focused on the possibilities for texture, dynamic, and atmospheric possibilities within a given compositional structure, Songs for Wandering Souls places its eye firmly on group execution this set of compositions – all but two of which are by Douglas, the others arranged by him especially for this of his many groups. The disc opens with "Sam Hill," a beautiful "song," where the lead "call" voice is carried by Douglas, but its "response" is in the lyrical flow of Shepik's string interplay.
Brad Stivers is a natural – a young, soul-stirring blues and roots singer, songwriter and guitarist from Austin, Texas, playing and writing in the great American tradition. Just barely in his mid-twenties, Brad is in the vanguard of the next generation of musicians who will shape and define those genres in this century.