Combining elements of jazz improvisation and harmony with an approach to guitar playing heavily influenced by diverse players such as Jim Hall, Robin Trower, Fred Frith, and sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar, Rex Shepherd has forged a niche for himself with original music that typically lies somewhere just outside the usual genre labels but is still music that is approachable. Having been described as “Robin Trower meets Miles Davis,” Shepherd’s music spans from full on instrumental rock tunes to traditional jazz compositions with a good dose of free improvisation and sound experimentation using altered and effected guitar sounds and instruments such as the “oceanharp” and the Theremin.
His compositions are also a blend of influences, from Wayne Shorter to John Cage, and most often are directly inspired by people, literature and other art forms, and experiences that hold significant meaning in Shepherd’s life. “I feel really lucky to get to play with some great musicians and always look forward to meeting new people to create sounds with...it’s amazing how the same music can sound so different with the personalities of other players in any given moment. Playing with a group is a very fluid thing when everyone is listening, then responding...it becomes intuitive and ethereal.
When I play solo it’s similar in a way, in that I am responding to inner voices and emotional impulses in a meditative sort of way. I’m not a technical player, I rarely practice technique unless I discover a particular thing I want to use to express my ideas. With whatever technique I have, I hope that I can bring out the best of my musical ideas. One of my main influences, Jim Hall, is a master lyricist and I could only hope for a fraction of the melody under that guy’s fingers. I play what I want to play and I don’t want to copy anyone, but I do a pretty good impression of myself most of the time.”