Andy Sheppard Interview, NYC

By Filipe Freitas

Andy Sheppard, photo by ©Sara da Costa

Andy Sheppard, photo by ©Sara da Costa

Name: Andy Sheppard
Instrument: tenor and soprano saxophones
Style: contemporary jazz
Album Highlights: Soft On The Inside (Antilles, 1991), Surrounded By Sea (ECM, 2015), Romaria (ECM, 2018)

// While touring in Europe, British saxophonist Andy Sheppard took some time to do this brief, funny interview with us.//

In October you're going to perform at AngraJazz Festival in the Azores, Portugal. Will you be playing music from Romaria, exclusively?
We will be playing mainly music from Romaria but also some tunes from the preceding album, Surrounded by Sea, and some new music...

Is it your first time on the island?
It's my second visit. I played a few years ago with Carla Bley and Steve Swallow.

Renato Teixeira's "Romaria" was part of my childhood. How did you come across the song?
My wife played me a version by Elis Regina; she has beautiful ears (well they both do...) She knew the melody would inspire me. I introduced it to the band as an encore on a gig and it stuck in our repertoire...

Besides jazz, what other styles do you listen to? Who are your favorites for each style?
I try and keep my ears open to all musics. Some days I don't get beyond the birds and cicadas in my garden - they can sound so good... Chet Baker’s singing always hits as does Coltrane’s sound, and I love just about all the music pouring out of Norway right now.

Who influenced you the most in jazz?
I guess the people who've influenced me the most are all the amazing musicians I've been lucky to work with - I'm 61, so it's a very long list - but of course Gil Evans, George Russell, Carla Bley and Rita Marcotulli stick out.

Can you name two persons whom you've never collaborated with but you'd like to?
I'd love to do something with Jan Bang and also in a different dimension John Scofield…

When did you realize you wanted to be a professional musician?
I decided to become a professional musician the moment I heard John Coltrane. It was an instant decision - I was 18 years old ...

Besides touring in Europe, are you currently working on some other project?
Fixing my garden ... it seems an unending task. I'm also writing new music for the quartet and thinking of starting a new project in New York ... Or at least something with that kind of edge to it.