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Joanna MacGregor and Andy Sheppard – Deep River

Date: November 2014

This is not a new album; recorded in 2005, pianist Joanna MacGregor and sax player Andy Sheppard have put together an album of great beauty. The variety of styles and techniques both players bring to bear for the varied material on this CD, makes Deep River a richly rewarding album, and one of those where it pays not to cherry-pick tracks but just to sit down, press ‘play’, and listen.

There are covers of tracks by Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash and others, as well as reworkings of traditional material, and the degree of light and shade created by both the material, and its treatment, makes this such an involving listen. This is not the sort of album where once you’ve heard the first couple of tracks, the rest is more of the same.

Of course, the degree of benefit you get from this light and shade depends on the source you play it through, and the Puccini does a great job of showing one how each player’s inflections and nuances contribute to the whole experience. It would be easy enough to just enjoy this album as a collection of nice music, well-played, but if you’re fortunate enough to have a player which can show you the depth of skill and artistry which underpins that beauty, then you have a whole other dimension of appreciation to draw from.

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