Bob Sheppard

In the Now

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In the Now is Bob Sheppard's long-awaited sophomore effort, delayed by a life of constant sideman and film-session work. The West Coast saxophonist is ably assisted by guitarist Larry Koonse, bassist Jeff d'Angelo, and drummer Mark Ferber, with David Hocker subbing on one track. Switching between tenor and soprano saxes as well as trio and quartet lineups, Sheppard delivers the kind of fiery yet polished post-Coltrane, Brecker-influenced improv for which he's become known. There's some intriguing repertoire, including Michel Legrand's "The Summer Knows," a bright 3/4 reading of Wayne Shorter's "Charcoal Blues," and a satisfying tenor-trio take of "Easy Livin'." Sheppard's two originals, "Bait & Switch" and "Wouldn't You," also create some sparks. The musicianship is formidable -- Koonse is a delight when he appears -- but one would have hoped for more stretching. Some of these tracks end before they really get off the ground.

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