Jake Schepps | Ten Thousand Leaves

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Ten Thousand Leaves

by Jake Schepps

Adventurous Stringband Music: tangos, string quartets, bluegrass, swing, jazzy ballads and more. Produced by Matt Flinner, and featuring the Expedition Quartet, and special guests Matt Flinner and Adam Aijala.
Genre: Country: Progressive Bluegrass
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Todo Buenos Aires
7:15 $0.99
2. The Seagull
5:05 $0.99
3. Origami
4:12 $0.99
4. In The American West: Somerset
5:06 $0.99
5. In The American West: Chimayo
2:55 $0.99
6. In The American West: Rocky Ford
3:28 $0.99
7. Bluegrass Schlep
4:56 $0.99
8. The Zipper
4:14 $0.99
9. Lodi
5:04 $0.99
10. The Rise
5:07 $0.99
11. Cute-nik
2:26 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Jake Schepps takes stringband music on another adventure with the release of Ten Thousand Leaves. With engaging, dynamic material that reflects the Colorado aesthetic of roots music, the album focuses on creative composition, melodic ideas and tasteful solos. Produced by Nashville’s Matt Flinner, the album remains true to the artistic values of stringband, yet draws on certain jazz sensibilities, such as extensive musical interplay and more extended harmonies.

This all-instrumental album includes original compositions by Schepps, with additions from Matt Flinner, Greg Schochet, and Eric Thorin. The material includes an Astor Piazzolla tango arranged for stringband, and a brand new Flinner tune composed specifically for this project. The centerpiece is a through-composed suite inspired by Richard Avedon’s series of portraits titled, “In the American West.” As Sing Out Magazine states, Schepps plays “nothing less than excellent music, in both form and function. Thoughtfully constructed arrangements provide depth and breadth, leaving no stone unturned, no player out in the cold.”

The Expedition Quartet:
Jake Schepps: 5-string banjo
Ryan Drickey: violin
Greg Schochet: guitar and mandolin
Eric Thorin: bass

Special Guests:
Matt Flinner: mandolin
Adam Aijala: guitar

"Jake Schepps's plays well and his music is beautiful. Rather than being overtly bold or edgy, his performance is covertly calculating and intuitive, melodies easy to remember, yet always fresh and never redundant. "Progressive" string bands should always be this easy to listen to."



to write a review

Bluegrass Unlimited

This is one of the more complicated records I've yet reviewed. How to convey all or even part of what I'm hearing in these 11 instrumental tracks. All the wonderful textures, all the shifts of time, and rhythm and mood. Think of describing a Beethoven symphony in 300 words. There is much here that is intriguing and much to be admired and praised. What is not much here is bluegrass, not traditional bluegrass anyway. Three of the tracks do, however, skirt the boundaries. "The Seagull" is perhaps more of an Irish reel, but "Bluegrass Schlep" comes across with a modernistic "Heavy Traffic Ahead" bounce and an updated Monroeish mandolin, while the quick-tempoed "The Rise" has a straight chop and a newgrass breakdown feel. Jazz and classical elements dominate the rest. There's a bit of Tom Waits in the intro to Astor Piazzola's "Todo Buenos Aires," which then melts into contemporary jazz lines and ensemble work over percussive rhythm and an insistant bass figure. "Cutenik" (the album's closer) by contrast is more of a classical lullaby for bass, glissando violin, and arpeggiated banjo.
Between those bookends is "In The American West," a three-movement portrait inspired by the photography of Richard Avedon and presented in a modern classical form. Each movement focuses on a different town in Avedons photographic series. How well the music evokes the photos, I can't say, not having seen the works, but as with tone poems of all sorts, it's ultimately the music and what you get from it that counts, and in this case, it counts for much. This is an album that intrigues, entertains, and reveals more of itself with each play.

Dan Willging

From the March, 2008 issue of Dirty Linen.
Jake Schepps and crew are part of a growing modern stringband movement that uses bluegrass instrumentation but really produces music without border. Since many of Schepps's cerebral instrumental compositions were inspired by photographic art, unusual sights of nature, and even Japanese poetry (for the concept cover), it's interesting to note that these are really sonic interpretations of art, in essence art begetting art.
"The Rise" - a geologic reference to a Wyoming river (Popo Agie) disappearing into the earth and reemerging down stream - does feel like a rapid stream rippling over moss-strewn rocks. Initially, the tempo is fast, perhaps symbolizing the river's downhill momentum. Then is slows down: the arrangement mellows as now the river has submerged into the earth. Finally it resurfaces, the pace picks up, and the river rolls on.
The disc's centerpiece is the In the American West suite, a trilogy of a western Colorado hamlet ("Somerset"), a northern New Mexico village known for religious pilgrimages ("Chimayo), and an eastern colorado town famous for melons ("Rocky Ford") - hardly the typical Western fodder. With Schepps's equally accomplished bandmates and special guest mandolinist Matt Flinner, the arrangements are sleek, spry, and subtly sophisticated. On "Somerset," Schepps's banjo and Ryan Drickey's fiddle play a lolloping passage in unison before Drickey ascends to a different, higher melody line while Schepps contrasts nicely with the same melody. The acoustic bassist Eric Thorin echoes the same melody with Drickey, albeit octaves apart. "Cute-nik" features moments of new-classical chamber music with banjo and fiddle. There are moments of straight-forward bluegrass, such as "Bluegrass Schlep," but soon unexpected twists and turns pop up like twangy electric guitar and string-slapping jazzy bass solo. Recommended.


One of the ten best recordings of 2007.....
Banjoist Jake Schepps, violin master Ryan Drickey, guitarist Greg Schochet (who also plays mandolin), and string bassist Eric Thorin have combined their estimable talents on one of the ten best recordings of 2007. This is a complete and utter delight. From the airy banjo/violin interplay that informs the opening Astor Piazzolla-penned “Todo Buenos Aires” it is apparent that this is a string band meets jazz session that runs on high octane talent.
Updating the string band tradition, this superb collection straddles a fence between jazz and bluegrass, both of which are musical schools which require uncommon command of one’s instrument. On this all-instrumental collection, it is glaringly apparent that these are musicians of such talent. Schepps is in a category of his own. There are tidbits of Bela Fleck in his approach, perhaps, but Schepps is completely his own man. Simply astounding.


Defies the norm....
Jake Schepps is not your typical, or should we say "stereo-typical" banjo player. Admittedly, we were initially intrigued to review his latest CD, Ten Thousand Leaves, not so much because of his banjo competence, but because of his association and the production skills of mandolin virtuoso Matt Flinner. Digging deeper into Schepps project and his banjo playing, the allure of this first-class instrumentalist and gifted writer has been satisfying in itself.

Jake Schepps is easily labeled a progressive banjo player. The term is hardly oxymoronic anymore, with trailblazers such as indefatigably versatile Bela Fleck and jazzer Pat Cloud, there is already a new standard credibility of the instrument breaking the bounds of banjo convention, producing amazing literature beyond folk/hillbilly or "swamp" music. Schepps' compositional skills alone demonstrate this propensity, but we enjoy his playing as well.

Jake Schepps's plays well and his music is beautiful. Rather than being overtly bold or edgy, his performance is covertly calculating and intuitive, melodies easy to remember, yet always fresh and never redundant. "Progressive" string bands should always be this easy to listen to.

Joe Ross

An adventurous journey w/ evocative thrills in each musical measure
Playing Time – 49:48 -- Banjo pioneer Jake Schepps finds inspiration in a multitude of places. This album comes a couple years after the notable “Expedition,” and continues his erudite exploration of tonal discovery and textural artistic expression. Schepps has an interesting Zen-like approach to original new acoustic music. In fact, this project was named for the 7th Century Japanese poetry collection of the same name. Thus, I sense that Jake views music, not as something that builds to a grand and ultimate climaxing crescendo, but as an adventurous journey that presents evocative thrills in the moment of each musical measure.

In 2006, Schepps attended the Banff Centre’s Jazz and Creative Music Workshop. His arrangement of Astor Piazzolla’s tango, “Todo Buenos Aires,” stems from that stimulating, educational experience. It was also there that Schepps was inspired to compose “In the American West,” a piece (in three movements) that captures the same spirit as Richard Avedon’s photographic images of working class westerners in an early-1980s exhibit of the same name. Composed for banjo, guitar, violin and bass, the movements (Somerset, Chimayo, Rocky Ford) represent specific towns where portraits were originally photographed. “Chimayo” also features guitarist Greg Schochet’s mandolin-playing (as does Greg’s own bluesy tune “Bluegrass Schlep”). The CD’s other stellar mandolin tracks are played by award-winning Matt Flinner who penned “The Seagull” and produced the album. Ryan Drickey’s violin and Eric Thorin’s bass indicate that both of them are superior instrumentalists too. Thorin toured with the Tony Furtado Band for four years, played with Open Road for about the same time, and is now with The Drew Emmitt Band and The Expedition Quartet (the group featured on this album). Thorin’s own songwriting abilities are portrayed in the mellifluous “Lodi.”

Colorado-based Schepps demonstrates a clear affinity for new acoustic, bluegrass, jazz and Latin flavorings. Spending nine years as a trip leader and teacher with The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) near Lander, Wyoming, it was presumably in that locale that Jake was inspired by a local geologic feature to write “The Rise.” That landmark is no doubt the source of much contemplation and reflection. Guitarist Adam Aijala joins in on the piece which ebbs, flows, meanders and reawakens like the Popo Agie River in that area. No stranger to wilderness, Jake Schepps confidently takes the paths that are less travelled. In some cases, he merely aligns his compass and sets out cross-country. Assuredly taming that unruly, wild beast that drives his music, Jake Schepps’ challenge is to sustain this vision as his expedition travels even further into daring territory. (Joe Ross, staff writer, Bluegrass Now)