Elizabeth Shepherd —— The Signal ^ A Canadian jazz pianist, composer, arranger, and producer who has established a genre–blurring trademark of jazz, R&B and pop.
^ Velvety–voiced pianist Elizabeth Shepherd arrived on the international scene in 2006 when her debut album Start To Move was voted one of the Top three jazz albums of the year by the listeners of the influential Gilles Peterson Show on BBC Radio Worldwide. Since then, the Canadian soul–jazz innovator has released three widely acclaimed records and toured extensively in North America, Europe, Japan and Latin America. She has sold out legendary clubs from Tokyo to Detroit, played festivals like Montreal and North Sea Jazz Festival, shared the stage with Victor Wooten, Branford Marsalis and Christian McBride, and opened for Jamie Cullum at The Hollywood Bowl.
^ A three–time JUNO nominee (Canada s Grammy equivalent), Elizabeth Shepherd has received widespread praise for her hip compositions and soulful delivery. Along with Esperanza Spalding, Robert Glasper, and Jose James she is seen as part of a wave of young jazz musicians bringing the art form to a new generation of music fans. ΞΞΞ Elizabeth's upcoming album The Signal (Worldwide Release Date September 30, 2014) features compelling collaborations with guitarist Lionel Loueke (Herbie Hancock). Elizabeth will be touring throughout the world in 2014 and 2015.
Location: Montréal, Québec, Canada
Album release: September 30, 2014 / January 26, 2015 (UK, France)
Record Label: Linus Entertainment
01 Willow 4:41
02 What's Happening 3:31
03 B.T. Cotton 6:22
04 The Signal 6:46
05 Lion's Den 5:07
06 This 6:47
07 On Our Way 4:21
08 I Gave 3:59
09 Another Day 5:40
10 Baby Steps 4:51
^ Jeremy Darby Engineer
^ Jud Haynes Design
^ Johan Hultqvist Art Direction
^ Joshua Van Tassell Engineer, Producer
^ Scott Kemp Bass, Vocals
^ Colin Kingsmore Drums, Percussion
^ Marianne Larochelliere Photography
^ Larnell Lewis Drums, Vocals
^ Lionel Loueke Guitar, Vocals
^ Ross MacIntyre Bass
^ John Maclean Clapping, Editing, Engineer, Flute, Mixing, Ngoni, Producer
^ Morgan McConnell Design, Layout
^ Mark Mosca Steel Pan
^ Alex Samaras Vocals
^ Elizabeth Shepherd Bottle, Clapping, Composer, Fender Rhodes, Kalimba, Piano, Producer, Sampling, Vocals
^ Yvette Tollar Vocals
^ Roman Tome Drums, Percussion
^ David Travers–Smith Mastering, Mixing, Producer
^ Kevin Turcotte Trumpet
Review by Thom Jurek; Score: ****
^ In 2012, Canadian pianist, songwriter, and composer Elizabeth Shepherd received a Juno nomination for Best Vocal Jazz Album for Rewind, her bright, wonderfully reimagined collection of standards from the worlds of jazz, pop, cabaret, and French chanson. According to Shepherd, she chose Rewind's standards — which had always been meaningful presences in her world — because she was pregnant, and the songs were the only things not changing in and around her. Two years on, The Signal is a rhythmic and textural shift. This profoundly feminist sociopolitical offering actively engages aesthetics of neo–soul, funk, and hip–hop (musics that have been referred to indirectly on her records since 2008), while remaining firmly rooted in her trademark meld of off–center jazz and pop. Her Rhodes piano is ever present, while a Moog makes select appearances — all percussion and basslines are organic. Opener "Willow," with its funky crystalline Rhodes and rolling breaks, features the first of two appearances by Benin's master guitarist Lionel Loueke, who also lends a chant to its vocal. "What's Happening" — with her longstanding trio featuring bassist Scott Kemp and drummer Colin Kingsmore — has a keyboard that sounds more like a nasty clavinet, but it works to cement the infectious spiny riff. "B.T. Cotton" commences with a sample of Lead Belly playing and talking about picking cotton as Kemp's bass vamp introduces a fingerpopping groove before Shepherd begins singing (subtly and with stacked harmonies) about the brutal conditions in India's textile industry. A tight steel pan solo from Marc Mosca tops it off, creating the condition for a compulsive second listen. "Lion's Den," with its spacy Rhodes, Moog, reverbed drums, and Kevin Turcotte's killer trumpet break, belies its harrowing lyric about forced marriage and rape in Africa. "This" opens with ambient sound washes, a pronounced bassline atop Loueke's spectral guitar playing in the margin. The brushed snares and whispering Rhodes spiral around the tender, haunting melody before it ramps up toward the guitarist's colorful solo. "On Our Way" lets drummer Larnell Lewis use a cracking hip–hop tom–tom; Shepherd's chords fall forward and back across her vocal as Kemp's punchy bass vamp roils in the middle. "Another Day" addresses Trayvon Martin's killing; it commences as a ballad before picking up the tempo and tension in grasp–and–release fashion with a monstrous souled–out groove at its heart. It is an excellent illustration of topical songwriting in the 21st century — displaying its poignancy framed inside music that attracts not by dynamic force but through a colorful imagination, yet speaks directly. The set closes with "Baby Steps," a funky, midtempo jam with a sunny, layered trumpet break and handclaps that accent its irresistible backbeat. The Signal is an excellent return for Shepherd; it's hip, bracing, sophisticated, and accessible. It will resonate deeply with fans of Esperanza Spalding, Robert Glasper, and José James. :: http://www.allmusic.com/
Artist Biography by Michael G. Nastos
ΞΞΞ Start to Move Canadian pianist and singer/songwriter Elizabeth Shepherd has been carving an individual sound and voice by mixing and matching sounds of contemporary jazz, funk, soul, samba, and blues for an ever growing audience. Raised by ministers of the Salvation Army, she was privy to the sounds of an Army brass band as much as contemporary dance and classical musics. Among her biggest jazz influences are Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock, Ahmad Jamal, Alice Coltrane, Abdullah Ibrahim, Abbey Lincoln, Sarah Vaughan, and Mark Murphy, among others. Shepherd's formal studies spanned continents from conservatories in Alberta, British Columbia in Canada to France, but she completed a piano degree in music from McGill University in Montreal. Though her initial intention was to pursue a career in music therapy, Shepherd returned to Toronto upon graduation in 2004, working as a waitress in a piano bar before the owner gave her a chance to put aside a drink tray for stage performance. Since then she has played many of Toronto’s popular haunts, including the Rex Hotel, the Montreal Bistro, the Supermarket, and the Distillery District. Overseas, Shepherd has appeared at Tokyo’s Cotton Club, London’s Jazz Cafe, Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide show on BBC Radio and Matt Galloway’s Here & Now program on CBC Radio. Shepherd received a nomination for a 2006 Juno Award for her first album Start to Move on Do Right records, produced by John Kong, and it was voted the third best vocal jazz album of the year by Peterson. Her follow–up 2007 CD, Besides, was a collection of remixes, a version of the jazz standard “Midnight Sun,” and a late–night styled jam on Pierre Leduc’s “Soya.” Shepherd’s third CD, Parkdale, released in 2008, has her delving into songs like Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground,” and standards “Con Alma” or “Long As You’re Living.” and was produced by Nostalgia ‘77’s Benedic Lamdin. Shepherd playing acoustic and Fender Rhodes pianos, was accompanied by bassist Scott Kemp, drummer Colin Kingsmore, tenor saxophonist Mark Hanslip, trumpeter William Sperandei, percussionist Roman Tome, and guitarist Reg Schwager.
ΞΞΞ She switched things up on 2010’s Heavy Falls The Night contained only one cover. The single, “Seven Bucks,” co–produced by DJ Mitsu the Beats, was the only track she didn't helm by herself. The set was longlisted for Canada's prestigious Polaris Music Prize.
Her fourth album, Rewind, was a collection of completely revisioned jazz and pop standards, tunes that had influenced her intially, but were played in her distinct, funky pop–jazz manner. Though there were a total of nine sidemen, only two or three appeared at a time. It was recorded when she was eight months pregnant and appeared in 2012, and nominated for a Juno Award.
ΞΞΞ After taking time off to nuruture her newborn daughter, Shepherd returned to the recording studio in 2014. The Signal was, at least on first listen an abrupt change of direction. More melodically and harmonically sophisticated, the set was stuctured not as a collection of songs, but as an album in the 1970s sense of the word. Among her cast of all star players, African jazz guitarist Lionel Lueke (Herbie Hancock, Gretchen Parlato) guested on two tracks. The Signal was issued on September 30.
Press: Pinwheel Music | email@example.com
^ Start To Move (As The Elizabeth Shepherd Trio) (Do Right Music 2006)
^ Besides: Remixes & B–Sides (Do Right Music 2007)
^ Parkdale (Do Right Music 2008)
^ Heavy Falls The Night (Do Right Music 2010)
^ Rewind (Pinwheel Music/Linus Entertainment 2012)
^ The Signal (Linus Entertainment 2014)