Whispers on facebook and a bit of texting were all the promotion that an Easter Sunday outing received for Andy Sheppard with this trio. They’ve caused a bit of stir over the last month or so popping up here and at the Cori Tap and reportedly raising the roofs of both. With Dan Moore on organ and Tony Orrell on drums(Tony’s also an old sparring partner of Andy’s from early days in Bristol) the line up has the appearance of a conventional organ trio and they certainly quacked like one at the start with Killer Joe getting the full on swinging groove Blue-note era treatment. But things began to subtly shift thereafter. Tunes segued into each other with a drum solo or hymn like passage from the organ. Another skipping hard bop groove but with a modal sounding coltranesque hook somehow morphed seamlessly into a Whitney Houston power ballad. At the start of the second set, a modal burn up developed, via trademark Sheppard sax pyrotechnics into Dear Prudence with a bass riff and groove that, as my second pair of ears observed, wouldn’t have sounded out of place on a Portishead album. A Neil Young ballad got the gospel treatment with soaring climax of a melodic and textured drum solo, keyboard and sax repeating the melody with increasing intensity (stand-out moment amongst many crackers of the evening). The delight in each others company of the three protagonists was there constantly and a sense that anything might happen. There was predictably powerful blowing from Andy Sheppard, but he was being driven on by Dan and Tony who were giving as good as they got and equally prepared to play at a whisper as one tune was blended into the next. This trio may be a bit undercover at the moment, but there’s nothing thrown together about the repertoire and there’s an already mature understanding between them. Watch out for when they break cover, although hopefully they’ll still find time to visit the back streets of Easton.
The Pushy Doctors, Sunday 24th April, The Greenbank