From Analog Tape

Lingua Franca

Brad Shepik, Matt Kilmer, Peter Epstein

Original Recording Format: Analog
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In this hybrid of jazz improvisation and Balkan rhythms, communication forges a collective sound that is consistent and personal.
Mark Werlin

Longtime friends and musical collaborators Peter Epstein and Brad Shepik both became well established on the New York scene: Shepik as an intense and committed guitarist, Epstein as an equally versatile saxman, a superb composer and performer.

It was Epstein who proposed Lingua Franca, a duo collaboration with both of them contributing pieces. Shepik suggested a young drummer he knew, Matt Kilmer, to complete the trio. The result, recorded in great sounding Analogue, is alternately groove-based and more meditative, timeless, often with a folky feel.

The album is exclusively available in DSD Stereo & 5 Channel Surround Sound DSD 256 and DSD 128 plus Stereo DSD 512 from NativeDSD.

Peter Epstein and Brad Shepik had been friends and musical collaborators for a decade when Lingua Franca was recorded in 2003. Both had become well established on the NY scene — Brad as one of the most intense and committed guitarists, at home playing in, out and on the edge, a lynchpin in several world music influenced jazz ensembles (Dave Douglas’s Tiny Bell Trio, Matt Darriau’s Paradox Trio, Pachora); Peter was an equally versatile saxman, a superb composer-performer with interests ranging from improv to Bach to Balkan, Indian and west African music. Peter was an essential part of Brad’s middle-eastern inspired quintet that recorded The Loan (1997) and The Well (2000) for Songlines. When Peter proposed a new duo collaboration with both of them contributing pieces, Brad suggested bringing in Matt Kilmer, a young NY-based percussionist he’d performed with in Paradox Trio and Simon Shaheen’s group.

The result is even more diverse than their previous work together, as it alternates between different grooves and a more meditative, timeless, often folky feel. The individual elements that make up the music are sometimes clear (e.g. the reggae tune “Sunrise,” the bluesy “Miro” the Celtic “Emerald”), but more often they are effortlessly and elegantly combined (e.g. Monsaraz’s eastern modality plus its 12-bar blues-influenced form and chord progression).

Brad comments: “In terms of musical style I’m not able to dissect the influences in a definitive way, but I was looking for material that we could have some fun with as a group. We also wanted to do some free improvisations.”

Peter adds: “I wanted to do a project where we could also include sounds more associated with America: jazz, blues. So there’s a bit of leaping around from reference to reference, but that’s almost on purpose; what’s of real interest here for me is the way in which we can play these very disparate sounds in the creation of an album where the commitment and communication within the group tempers those differences, by establishing a group sound / concept that remains consistent and personal throughout. For me the title Lingua Franca refers less to the overlapping of various musical cultures and more to overlapping personal musical concepts, with each musician representing a distinct musical culture unto themselves.”

So what makes it a Jazz record?
Brad: “For me the jazz element is in the improvising and in the way the trio shapes the music collectively from moment to moment.”

Peter: “In a way, I suppose I am my own melting pot. All of these different sounds and concepts have gone in but what comes out is something unlike any of the original sounds. Being a ’jazz musician’ now means that we can call a Balkan tune, free improvisation or an original the way we used to call a waltz, ballad, or bebop tune (even alongside the waltz, ballad, or bebop tune).”

Peter Epstein, Saxophone
Brad Shepik, Guitar
Matt Kilmer, Percussion


Please note that the below previews are loaded as 44.1 kHz / 16 bit.
Two Door
Here & There

Total time: 00:55:41

Additional information





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Mastering Engineer

Graemme Brown (Zen Mastering, Vancouver, BC)


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Original Recording Format

Recording Location

Brooklyn Recording Company, Brooklyn, NY

Recording & Mixing Engineer

Aya Takemura

Release DateNovember 17, 2023

Press reviews

All About Jazz

Like many excellent recordings, the first time you hear Lingua Franca you’re impressed. Every time after that just gets better.

Jazz Times

There’s a simple elegance to this encounter between alto/soprano saxophonist Peter Epstein, guitarist Brad Shepik and percussionist Matt Kilmer.

A non-Western ambience prevails thanks to Kilmer’s dumbek and frame drums and Shepik’s scalar exoticism. Five of the pieces are Shepik’s, four are Epstein’s….

With no bassist, Shepik is free to roam sonically, and his trustiest vehicle is an octaver that broadens his tone and adds low end to the mix. His occasional looping, phasing and backward effects never obscure his clean and pure electric-guitar sound.

There are brilliant acoustic-guitar glimmers as well, on ‘Meditation,’ ‘Temoin’ and others. The trio balances freedom and rigorous structure on these tunes, which vary widely: from the complex line writing of ‘Two Door’ and ‘Monsaraz,’ to the meditative, folkish lyricism of ‘Emerald’ and ‘Kumanovo,’ to the majestic sweep of ‘Here and There.’

Epstein is heated yet focused on both his horns, and Kilmer always achieves the right blend of misty texture and propulsive tempo. Shepik is the anchor, however, and when he takes his turn on the bright 7/8 funk of ‘Miro,’ he’s truly improvising without a net.


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