On Short Trip, guitarist Brad Shepik casts himself against type and gets away with it. He chooses a classic though still somewhat pointed jazz tone and he and his band, drummer Tom Rainey and bassist Scott Colley, walk through a set of quiet, mannered tunes much closer in style to Jim Hall than to the Balkanized jazz Shepik is often associated with. Outside of the only non-Shepik composition, the traditional Sudanese melody "Karedok Luenca," the non-Western gestures surface only in small, subtle gestures here and there. This time out, no electric sax, no dumbek, not even a clarinet. Rather, Shepik invests himself in measured tempos, bluesy turns-of-phrases and unassumingly beautiful, harmonically deep tunes.
"Lupe" opens the recording with an upbeat vibe and a dancing theme, but already the trio has settled into the spare and easy-going manner that they maintain the album through. Rainy manages to swing it and spin out percussive countermelody at the same time. Colley drives the tune, hitting notes just before the beat. On the cooler "Non, Si Si," Shepik's unflashy chordal playing just about steals the show. Shepik does let his influences hang out a bit-especially on the very Frisellian title track, "Short Trip Back." As a counterbalance of sorts, a bit of familiar Shepik turns up also on "Tony Tune," where the guitarist turns up his distortion and lets his band get a little noisier.
Short Trip may come across as a little sleepy at first-especially for those expecting healthy doses of familiar Shepik. It won't take long for the more gentlemanly and mainstream side of Shepik to win you over.