Andy Sheppard

The award-winning, self-trained saxophonist and composer whose music has crossed genre barriers with ease

Sheppard, Andy (b. 20 January 1957, Warminster, Wilts.). Autodidact; playing in public with the Salisbury based group Sphere three weeks after taking up the saxophone; freelance work UK and Europe early 1980s including World Music bands and with pianist Keith Tippett; moved to Paris worked with Lumière and Urban Sax; returned to UK released Andy Sheppard, his debut album as a leader that included Randy Brecker and Steve Swallow; awarded Best Newcomer in British Jazz Awards 1987, and Best Instrumentalist in the 1988 awards; toured with George Russell’s Living Time Orchestra and with Gil Evans Orchestra; Introductions In the Dark (1989) won Best Album and Best Instrumentalist in 1989 British Jazz Awards.

1990 formed Soft on the Inside, a big band that recorded an album of the same name; band mutated into the Big Co-Motion and appeared on Sheppard’s debut on the Blue Note label, Rhythm Method (1993) and was followed by Delivery Suite (1994); in 1994 formed a lasting association with Carla Bley (p) and Steve Swallow (b) Songs With Legs (1994), The Lost Chords (2004), Trios (2013); composed “View from the Pyramids,” a concerto for saxophone and piano for the Bournemouth Sinfonietta, which premiered at the 1998 Salisbury Festival with Joanna MacGregor as piano soloist.

Numerous commissions followed throughout his career, including music to commemorate two feats of UK engineering — New Crossing to celebrate the opening of the Gateshead Millennium Bridge and The Living Bridge to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the engineer of the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol; three albums for Colin Towns’ Provocateur label (1998-2001); 2012, commissioned by the Bergen Big Band to write a suite “Bump 5250” which was performed at the 2013 NattJazz Festival.

Formed Saxophone Massive to perform a series of large-scale celebratory performances in the UK and abroad by saxophone choirs made up of players of all ages and abilities that performed all over Europe and as part of the BT River of Music, the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad programme and in July 2012 a special version of Saxophone Massive performed at Somerset House in London; TV credits include original music commissioned by BBC’s Omnibus; the Oscar nominated Channel 4 film, Syrup directed by Paul Unwin and the soundtrack for a documentary series about Peter Sellers; in 2009 began association with the ECM label with Movements In Colour (2009), Trio Libero (2012), Surrounded by Sea (2012) and Romaria (2018).

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