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Album review: 'The Fine Line'


Bob Sheppard

'The Fine Line'

Challenge Records

You may not have heard of saxophonist Bob Sheppard, but you've surely heard him play. He's worked with Chick Corea, Freddie Hubbard, and Herbie Hancock on the jazz side, and Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder, and Steely Dan in the pop realm. Released last May, Sheppard's excellent album "The Fine Line" gets off to a running start with wild, serpentine riffs on his tune "Edge of Trouble." It keeps gathering steam from there, with fine, bluesy originals and well-chosen covers.

My favorite of the covers is a spirited rendition of The Stylistics' tune "People Make the World Go Round," penned by Thom Bell and Linda Creed, but a close second is Billy Strayhorn's "A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing." Pianist John Beasley, drummer Kendrick Scott, and bassist Jasper Somsen provide solid support, while guest artists — including vibraphonist Simon Moullier, Rochester native and trumpeter Mike Cottone, and vocalist Maria Puga Lareo — nicely augment Sheppard's musical vision.