Elizabeth Shepherd and Michael Occhipinti
Singer/pianist/composer Elizabeth Shepherd and Michael Occhipinti have been featured in each other's projects for almost a decade, with Elizabeth being the vocalist and pianist for Michael Occhipinti's The Universe of John Lennon, and Michael touring as a member of Elizabeth's group promoting her last album The Signal. More recently, the two have begun work on “The Longest Street In the World” celebrating Canada’s golden age of music on Toronto’s Yonge Street, where The Band, Neil Young, Gordon Lightfoot, and Blood Sweat and Tears launched their careers and Oscar Peterson, Bruce Cockburn, and Charlie Parker recorded some of their most famous live work.
Michael Occhipinti’s guitar work has been called “miraculous” and paired with Elizabeth’s unique cool and soulful delivery, the two have received a dozen nominations for Canada’s Juno Award. Able to perform intimate shows as a duo, or large festival stages as a larger group, Elizabeth Shepherd and Michael Occhipinti have done multiple tours across Canada, the U.S., Mexico, and Europe. Elizabeth Shepherd’s group with Michael will be touring Canada in November 2018, and the two will return to Europe in 2019.
PHOTOS FROM EUROPE 2018
About Elizabeth Shepherd:
“Whether you’re a hipster, a purist or a Diana Krall-loving softie, she will win you over.” ~Montreal Gazette
Velvety-voiced pianist Elizabeth Shepherd arrived on the international scene in 2006 when herdebut album Start To Move was voted one of the Top 3 jazz albums of the year by the listener of the influential Gilles Peterson Show on BBC Radio Worldwide. Since then, the globetrotting
souljazz innovator has released five widely acclaimed records, picked up 4 JUNO nominations, and toured extensively in North America, Europe, Japan and Latin America. Her latest record, The Signal, has been hailed as a "masterpiece" and appeared on numerous Best-of-the-Year list across the world.
Elizabeth has been hailed as “a jazz virtuoso blessed with a pop sensibility”, praised by critics worldwide for her arrestingly original writing and soulful delivery. Along with artists like Esperanza Spalding, Robert Glasper, and Jose James she is seen as part of a wave of jazz musicians bringing the art form to a new generation of music fans. Elizabeth is also the only jazz vocalist to ever have been nominated twice for the Polaris Prize Canada’s most prestigious music prize.
Praise for Elizabeth Shepherd's 2015 JUNO-nominated The Signal:
• "A soul-groove masterpiece" Radio Koln (DE)
• "Top 10 Soul/R&B Album of 2014" EXCLAIM
• "Best of 2014" All About Jazz (US)
• "The most important vocal jazz record to be released all year." Something Else (US)
• "One of the coolest records of 2014" Winnipeg Free Press
• "One of the best jazz albums of the year" ICI
• "Arrestingly soulful....irresistibly hip" Montreal Gazette
• "One of the most creative, inventive, and delightful albums of the year" The Voice
• "Sublime" CBC Radio One
• "Best of 2014"
About Michael Occhipinti:
“Michael Occhipinti’s miraculous sounding guitar…wonderfully and magically made music.” Raul da Gama, JazzdaGama
A nine-time JUNO Award (Canada's Grammy) nominee, guitarist/composer Michael Occhipinti's freely crosses genres that include jazz, chamber music, funk, world music, and anything involving modern guitar sounds. His newest group In Orbit thrilled audiences across Canada and the U.S. in 2017 and features Grammy winning saxophonist Jeff Coffin (Bela Fleck/Dave Matthews Band), and virtuoso bassist Felix Pastorius.
Michael Occhipinti’s Sicilian Jazz Project has been called "a masterpiece of cross-cultural fusion" and has thrilled audiences in Canada, the U.S., Italy, and Mexico. Starting with field recordings of forgotten Sicilian folk music and reinventing the music as a mix of global genres, the project earned Michael a JUNO nomination, the 2009 Ragusani nel Mondo Award (which he and his musician brother Roberto received together in Ragusa, Sicily for their contribution to Sicilian culture), and a Chalmers Award that allowed him to live in Sicily from March - June 2010. His most recent album Muorica features brilliant American clarinetist Don Byron, and riveting Italian vocalist Ilaria Pilar Patassini.
Michael Occhipinti & Shine On: The Universe of John Lennon was selected by the staff at Toronto’s Jazz FM as a Top Pick of 2012. Typical of Michael’s willingness to challenge himself, the recording pulls off the tricky task of making some the best known songs in the world sound original and fresh. Shine On features the stellar vocals of Elizabeth Shepherd, and others, and Michael's distinct arrangements of songs by John Lennon and the Beatles.
In 1994 Michael Occhipinti and pianist Paul Neufeld formed the 16-piece NOJO, The Neufeld-Occhipinti Jazz Orchestra, a group the Los Angeles Times describes as "one of the most original sounding large ensembles on the current jazz scene.” All five of NOJO’s all-original recordings have been JUNO nominated (including the band’s 1995 debut which won the award for Best Contemporary Jazz Album) and its music has intrigued a number of renowned guest soloists including sax great Joe Lovano, trombonist Ray Anderson, trumpeter Kenny Wheeler, and most notably clarinetist Don Byron and the late saxophone giant Sam Rivers, who both recorded and toured with the ensemble. NOJO has performed at such prestigious venues as the Umbria Jazz Winter Festival in Orvieto, Italy, The Jazz Standard in New York, and Montreal’s Festival International de Jazz de Montreal.
“The Sicilian Jazz Project is an astonishingly salient new sound in the jazz spectrum” Stephen Pedersen, Halifax Chronicle Herald
“Occhipinti’s re-imaginings don’t sound like pure Sicilian music, nor are they intended to. Instead, they’re the sound of a musician who knows where he came from and where he’s going – and that’s a beautiful thing.” Alex Varty, The Georgia Straight
There's nothing novel about musicians drawing on folk melodies, nor is there anything new in an artist exploring his heritage through music. What makes Michael Occhipinti's Sicilian Jazz Project stand out - apart from the sheer gorgeousness of the sound - is the way he brings those elements to bear upon his music. Playing off the natural swing of the melodies, Occhipinti gives these songs full benefit of his imagination, casting them as everything from warped bop (Jolla) to swirling, worldbeat rock (Vitti'na crozza). And though the songs may sound as old as time itself, the performances are fresh and invigorating.”
J.D. Considine, The Globe and Mail