TRADITION (the habari gani sessions) documents the legacy of Saxophonist Frederick ‘Shep’ Sheppard (1945-2007). A great CD that includes several New Orleans musicians recorded following the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. The CD has just been nominated in Best of the Beat annual awards by Offbeat magazine for best contemporary jazz CD of 2008. Any sales of TRADITION will benefit the FREDERCIK ‘SHEP’ SHEPPARD MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP FUND that contributes to young New Orleans musicians. Please enjoy the music and contribute to the continuation of New Orleans music.
Boulder, Colorado, November 17, 2006: New Orleans and her native musicians have had a tough go of things in the past year—Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, displacement from homes and loss of instruments. Frederick ‘Shep” Shepherd is truly The Old-School Heart of New Orleans Music! Shep has lost everything but his Sax and his music; dislocated from New Orleans and living in Phoenix, Arizona—he needed our help! Shep recorded his first namesake studio recording in Boulder Colorado just three weeks before his death. The session was also made by NEw Orleans musicians Chris Lacinak, James Singleton, Brian Seeger and John Magnee.
Sheppard was born in New Orleans’ Charity Hospital in 1945 and started playing music while still a junior high student in the late 1950s. He bought his first saxophone coin by coin, with his mother who then worked as a maid, chipping in a dollar for every quarter he earned. The result was a $200 horn from Werlein's Music Store on Canal Street. "It was old and raggedy," he says, "but I didn't know it. It looked so good to me.”
Within a few years, Sheppard was playing all over town, on both sax and electric bass, which he picked up in a hurry during the 1960s, when the jazz clubs started turning to rock 'n' roll. While in high school, he skipped prom to play a gig with “originators of Funk” Art Neville and the Hawkettes, which featured a young Aaron Neville. Even New Orleans could not hold his musical spirit! Shep, along with Leo Nocentelli (famed Meters guitarist), quit school to take their music on the road and ended up working in Otis Redding’s band.
Over the years, Shep has performed as a band member of many R&B and jazz big-timers such as Ray Charles and Otis Redding. He's played with Fats Domino since about 1970, starting on electric bass and then moving to saxophone.
At 62 years of age, Shep still attacked his saxophone with iconoclastic mastery! Raising notes to their apex then shaping and bending the harmonics straight into the groove. Shep is truly one of New Orleans greatest saxophonist with a distinctive individual sound that will be considered as having a place in New Orleans musicial history.
Proceeds from this CD will benefit young New Orleans musicians through the Frederick Sheppard memorial Scholarship fund. Get the spirit.