John Esposito’s A Book of Five Rings & Laura Steele to perform in Hudson & Saugerties
Posted by Paul Smart on September 27, 2013 in Art, Events
by Laura Steele
The changes in Hudson just keep on coming. First there was the arrival of a thriving antiques business, followed by a build-up of the restaurant scene and the success of countless galleries. The place got its own community radio station and a summer ferry. Now it’s time for nightclubs and performance spaces, budding alternative schools, recording studios and a wave of even-larger creative spaces, including performance art legend Marina Abramowicz’s world-class multi-million-dollar museum, on which work started this week after she raised some $600,000 on Kickstarter in a few weeks.
Hudson is becoming one of those dreamed-of Meccas for hipness, folks.
To this riverside home to Basilica Hudson and Club Helsinki Hudson comes the promising new Second Ward Foundation – a non-profit organization founded by art collectors Steven Johnson and Walter Sudol that lends and exhibits contemporary art and occupies a 23,000-square-foot 1920s schoolhouse being repurposed into galleries, artist studios and a reference library, as well as a 500-person auditorium with a stage that will be used for performance and film events. What with Johnson and Sudol’s connections to such hot contemporary artists as Christian Marclay, Nancy Spero and Raymond Pettibon, its aim to serve as a ground-breaking creative incubator.
In the coming weeks, when Hudson comes alive with its annual Arts Walk, the Second Ward Foundation will present composer John Esposito and A Book of Five Rings, along with a new work from video artist and fellow Bard professor Laura Steele, on October 4 and 5.
Raised in the Hudson Valley, where he now runs Sunjump Records, in addition to his composing and teaching work, Esposito is considered one of the premier new music pioneers of the region. Steele is a photographer/video artist whose practice embraces a multitude of media, including photography, video, performance and installation, and serves as a lecturer at Yale in addition to her Bard duties. A Book of Five Rings is Esposito’s talented mélange of musicians who work through a series of composed and freely improvised music in collaboration with Steele’s real-time video mixing that uses prerecorded images and live video feeds projected on four walls. Audience seating becomes part of it. This first presentation will be co-hosted by Second Ward and Sun Jump Records.
In addition, Esposito, Steele and A Book of Five Rings will be doing a performance on the afternoon of Sunday, October 6 from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Saugerties Performing Arts Factory at 169 Ulster Avenue in Saugerties. For more details on the Ulster County gig, call (845) 246-7723 or visit www.saugertiesperformingartsfactory.com.
John Esposito, Laura Steele & A Book of Five Rings, Friday/Saturday, October 4-5, 7 p.m., suggested donation $10; www.facebook.com/secondwardfoundation.
342 Bowery, New York, NY 10012-2408 Phone: (212) 473-0043 - Toll Free: (800) 622-1387 - Fax: (212) 533-5059
November 21st, 2008 -
JOHN ESPOSITO With JAYNA NELSON/MATT SCHULMAN/ERIC PERSON/JIM FINN/TONY UNDERWOOD/HILLIARD GREENE/PETER O'BRIEN - A Book Of Five Rings: Live At The Knitting Factory (Sunjump CD 05; USA) Jayna Nelson, Flute and Piccolo; Matt Schulman, Trumpet; Eric Person, Alto and Soprano Saxophone; James Finn, Tenor Sax and Bass Clarinet; Tony Underwood, Tuba; John Esposito, Piano; Hilliard Greene, Bass; Peter O'Brien, Drums. This great live set was recorded in August of 1997 at the Knitting Factory and hasn't been released until now. The long and circuitous story in the liner notes must be read to be believed to see why it has taken so long to get this disc to be released. I only know about half of the folks in this fine octet.
All of the pieces here are relatively long, the entire CD is nearly 79 minutes long. "Bwarat" opens and Mr. Esposito has written some strong harmonies for the horns: bass clarinet, flute, soprano sax, trumpet and tuba. There are a number of long and inspired solos from the flute, soprano sax and trumpet. What is most striking is the support and interplay of the rhythm team, especially John's dynamic piano. On "Smitty", it is John's McCoy-like piano that is most astonishing and powerful, pushing the band higher and higher, with another burning solo from Matt Schulman's trumpet. The octet sounds like a little big band on "Two Worlds" with Peter O'Brien's drums creating a driving rhythmic force. The freer moments here are especially inspired and feature some fine soprano and bass clarinet swirling around one another intensely. The final piece, "...And His Spirit Ascended/Trane's Church" is an uplifting, epic-length, spiritual work which I find to be completely enchanting. The piano is rather harp-like and the flute and hand percussion create soft cosmic waves.
Flutist Jayna Nelson is a particularly fine musician who I haven't heard of before or since this disc, we can only hope that will uncover more from her in the future. This is John Esposito's fifth disc on his own Sunjump label and each one has been another undiscovered gem ripe for the plucking. Do not miss out on these delectable hidden treasures! - BLG
Friday, April 17, 2009 - Tim Niland
I saw pianist and composer John Esposito play a couple of times live with saxophonist Eric Person and was impressed with his strong and percussive style, which I found to be reminiscent of McCoy Tyner. So when this large group jam session popped up on eMusic, I wanted to check it out. According to Esposito's notes, this was originally supposed to be released on the revived ESP label, and it certainly has a free-ish vibe like the old ESP discs. Along with the leader and Person are Janya Nelson on flute, Matt Schulman on trumpet, James Finn on tenor sax and bass clarinet, Tony Underwood on tuba, Hilliard Greene on bass and Peter O'Brien on drums. Recorded live at the Knitting Factory back in 1997, it's a hot concert, a jam, but one that never gets out of control regardless of the energy, which is a complement to both Esposito and the other members of the group.
"Bwarat" opens with some sweet and breathy flute from Nelson and a strong exotic sounding soprano saxophone solo giving way to tart trumpet over percussively comped piano. "Smitty" was the highpoint of the album for me, featuring strong and rapid piano, a trumpet solo that digs deep and then climaxes with an explosive tenor saxophone solo that is simply extraordinary in its flame throwing energy. "Two Worlds" is a lengthy suite-like performance that alternates accordingly between sections of delicate interplay and cacophonous improvisation. The finale, another suite, "...and His Spirit Ascended/Trane's Church" builds slowly from a flute led meditation to a full out late period Coltrane ecstatic blowout. It's quite impressive and the musicians never lose focus during the near half our long dramatic improvisation. It unfolds like a ceremony and as such is quite an accomplishment.
I enjoyed this album quite a bit, at times it reminded me of some of the big band projects of Sam Rivers or the gospel tinged intensity of some Charles Mingus recordings. Certainly worthwhile for fans of modal to free jazz.