Chronogram

Leap of Faith:

John Esposito’s Sunjump Records

by Peter Aaron and photographs by Fionn Reilly, March 31, 2011

Someone starting a record label in today’s economic wasteland would seem to be, to put it kindly, quixotic. The middleman-cutting, direct-marketing accessibility of the Internet has at last wrested distribution away from the majors, and theoretically put indies on the same level as those long-monopolizing big boys. But at the same time the system is decimating many of the same smaller, integrity-driven, DIY concerns it’s been touted as helping: The file-sharing genie long ago popped out of the bottle and opened the floodgates, and now every second millions of self-professed “music lovers” plunge a knife in the hearts of the artists they profess to admire by stealing their music, without so much as a thought, via quasi-legal torrent sites.

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All About Jazz

Sunjump: Archaeology of the Present
Sunjump Records - Published: September 20, 2009

By Jakob Baekgaard

In a time when the music business, as many other other branches of commerce, is in crisis, it has become increasingly relevant to ask what needs to be done in order to save record labels. While the major companies retreat to protective copyright thinking and unimaginative repacking of archive material, a new host of independent labels is embracing the possibilities of the new digital area, seeing it as blessing rather than a curse. What drives these independent labels is the love of the music itself. Rather than thinking in cash and commerce terms, what counts to them is to have good music out there, no matter how difficult it may be to sell it, believing that great art eventually will find its way to those who seek it.

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John Esposito Trio - Down Blue Marlin Road

“… A virtuoso feat of recomposition as well as performance… jazz purified to the essence.” Kyle Gann - Village Voice

“ Esposito and his trio has taken the jazz cover a step beyond, creating something unique and personal in the process, and seem to be having fun doing it......The interplay is effortless, and satisfyingly dynamic.” M.R. Smith - Roll

“ a virtuosity seldom heard in players interpreting jazz standards. A bold conception and execution to be sure.....this recording is hopefully one of many to come from a brilliant player who deserves wider attention.” (Critic's Rating 3 1/2 stars) Michael G. Nastos, All Music Guide

“ both familiar and foreign at the same time....this release is a real pleasure, and one I’ll keep going back to.” Stuart Kremsky - Cadence

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John Esposito Quintet - The Blue People

“ These nine tracks, all Esposito originals, play like a history of jazz, recalling the brilliance of some of the genre’s greatest groups.” DJ Wavy Davy - Roll

“ The future and the past coalesced into a moment of improvisation......Esposito's compositions maintain an originality which rises out of both intellectual and emotional knowledge of Jazz and its history. It's blue music played inside out. ” Jakob Baekgaard - allaboutjazz.com

“ …..offering lucid, forward thinking, rhythmically propelling ideas, and display(ing) the right mix of moxy and taste......He succeeds on many real and important levels in creating some of the finest new modern jazz you may hear in the post-Whynton Marsalis era.”
- Michael G. Nastos, All Music Guide


“...the egoless, ecstatic approach to small group Jazz...with great depth of feeling and boundless rhythmic energy.” Stuart Kremsky - Cadence

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Second Sight: Flying With The Comet

“....refuses to choose between tradition and innovation. All the traces of the past greats who inspired this music show up clear and sharp as ever in the sound and spirit; that said, these guys let nothing hold them back....thrumming with intensity....It's jazz that pushes off the timeline, sounding as fresh as ever.” - Warren Allen allaboutjazz.com 2008

“...Densely structured, rhythmically imperious Avant-Bop, and that’s good enough to make for some interestingly intense ensemble brutishness with a deliciously nasty edge.”
Alan Bargebuhr Cadence 1987

“Second Sight ...a promising hard-bop sextet, scores a direct hit on Flying With the Comet …. a group of individuals attuned to the whole and attentive, as soloists, to linear development and personalized phrasing as opposed to simply filling the space. A real sleeper, Flying With the Comet is a solid, rousing date…” - Gene Kalbacher Hot House Dec. 1987


"I recently heard Second Sight, I was impressed both individually and collectively. Excellent solo playing and able playing. It is gratifying to hear some young guys playing with the caliber of musicianship that these guys have. Their original composition are worthy of much merit."
Horace Silver April 1988

“ SECOND SIGHT: Flying With the Comet This new group draws heavily on the post-bop and modal jazz traditions of the ‘60s and ‘70s. There is still plenty of turf to be plowed here, but it’s harder to be original now than it was 15 years ago. Second Sight delivers because the players listen to each other empathetically and because of the high level of the writing and soloing. Beautiful recording and pressing.” – Bart Grooms Option Magazine 1987


“ Second Sight is a rolling powerhouse of frenetic hard bop in the best tradition of Art Blakey’s perennial Jazz Messengers: This sextet swings like mad and bubbles over with lively, effervescent chops to spare. And even better, instead of just cloning the achievements of the past, they can put their own twisty little spins on it, as their first release, Flying With the Comet (SunJump Records), more than demonstrates.” -- Gene Santoro PULSE! 1987

“Second Sight is a powerful sextet co-led by pianist John Esposito and saxophonist Jeff Marx, who compose the group's material...... Passion and fire abound, as echoes of Coltrane, Tyner and Woody Shaw are interpolated by a younger generation.” Armen Donelian 1987

“Second Sight, a young group that has shown signs of working some intriguing personal variations of Blue Note classicism of the mid-60's.” - Robert Palmer 1987 New York Times

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Sangeeta Michael Berardi: Earthship

“Sangeeta Michael Berardi....crafted his own vision of that Far Eastern spiritual sound into dreamlike soundscapes that are truly phenomenal......weaves a nice thread between mood setting groove and electric firestorm.......needs to be recognized as completely different take that is rich, inventive and stellar in its execution. It's pulsating, passionate and modern while all wrapped in a divine layer spirituality.....A real treasure. - Vern JazzWrap

“Berardi's guitar is a soaring, swooping, melodious jet turbine of an instrument, owing as much perhaps to Jimi Hendrix as to any jazz guitarist. The atmosphere of Earthship is one of deep spirituality, much like John Coltrane during the saxophonist's Impulse! Records years......And when Berardi takes his solo, it's as if he is diving in from the stratosphere.........with Berardi bringing a radioactive shimmer of brash spirituality....” - Dan McClenaghan allaboutjazz.com

“....has a fine, spiritual quality that warms the heart.” - Bruce Lee Gallanter Downtown Music Gallery

“...Berardi delivers uncompromising expression, melody, energy, and communication. This recording is pure and honest, deeply from of the Coltrane mold, but filled with unique individual thought and original ideas. There is seamless weaving between composition and group improvisation, structure and group invention....” - Eric Lawrence Chronogram


"...dark-toned electric musings... might serve as a good antidote for listlessness or general malaise." --Glenn Astarita allaboutjazz.com

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John Esposito: A Book Of Five Rings

“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...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.”
Bruce Lee Gallanter - Downtown Music Gallery


"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.” Tim Niland - Jazz and Blues Blogspot

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Steve Geraci: Aliqae Song

“...infectious hard swinging groove ….Steve Geraci....plays inventively on each piece of this fine disc....Once again the great Sunjump label has released a long lost treasure that you shouldn't be without. - Bruce Lee Gallanter Downtown Music Gallery

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Mitch Kessler: Erratica
“.......technically adventurous as well as arrestingly cerebral....groove(s) at a high-thermometer reading.....aglow in white heat......the ensemble jumps through narrow portals with an abandonment of fear.” - Cheryl K. Symister-Masterson Chronogram

“....marks the long-awaited debut of saxophonist Mitch Kessler....A brilliant beginning, and one to hopefully be followed soon with more great studio work by Kessler.
- Peter Aaron Roll Magazine

“....breathtaking.....the sax and piano do an amazing job of shadowing one another, swirling tight lines around that are consistently inter-connected with the immense rhythm team flowing superbly underneath....The interplay between the tenor and the drums is just unbelievable. In a more perfect world, this disc would be played constantly on WBGO so that it had a chance to be heard and bought by the jazz-loving masses.” - Bruce Lee Gallanter Downtown Music Gallery

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Jeff Marx/Jeff Siegel/John Esposito: Inyo

“..... lyrical and reflective, but is not totally devoid of humor, playfulness, and recklessness. The trio looks forward while keeping an eye in the rearview mirror and acknowledging the past.... Ultimately, it is this constant and stimulating dialogue between Esposito and Marx (to which Siegel is not a spectator, but rather an instigator or a fire builder) that makes Inyo stand out and worth investigating.” - Alain Drouot JazzInChicago.com

“......could best be described as unquiet meditations or chaotic lyricism.... a true moment of musical Zen created by three masterful musicians.” - Jakob Baekgaard allaboutjazz.com


“....all three players interact and give each other some space to deal with at the same time. The music breathes and feels natural with some brilliant moments that consistently emerge. ….The endless inventiveness of this trio is most impressive and this disc remains a jewel in more ways than one.” - Bruce Lee Gallanter Downtown Music Gallery

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Jayna Nelson: Bloom Of Creation

“....playing that possesses a balanced logic and earthiness....and intricately weaves her sound into the fabric of a composition.....stretching into each other’s musical space without creating a crowded sound....With the Bloom of Creation, Nelson has landscaped an organic milieu that is openly defined..” - Cheryl K. Symister-Masterson Chronogram

“....a balance of the emotive and cognitive aspects of the thought process.... conveys a feeling of close interaction and an unhindered transition from lyrical moments...to the more brusque......Nelson and her group achieved something special....the product of these great minds is no longer lost, but a document preserved for the ages....As Nelson writes in the liner notes: "The creative process is never a solo journey. Bloom of Creation is the collaboration of rare souls conversing in the universal language of music."
Jakob Baekgaard allaboutjazz.com

“...another unrecognized gem....amazing flute and piano interplay with equally strong rhythm section work.....all five members of this solid quintet engage each other and play slow-burning restraint, solos unfolding carefully and consistently intense interaction.”
Bruce Lee Gallanter Downtown Music Gallery

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John Esposito: Orisha

“..a wonderful collection of originals...that are joyous and jumpin'....the trio move through uptempo and midtempo without hesitation. It's a lovely introspective listen that is emotionally effective....a stellar collection of high spirited originals....rolled up into just over an hour of
marvelous listening. - Vern JazzWrap

“.... a superior example of modernistic swing, Esposito making melodic fills shimmer in the midst of a sweeping hurricane of rhythm....mixes rollicking stride piano with ethereal impressionism....Its restless energy refuses to reside into the background and the dramatic ebb and flow of the music speaks of three artists for whom art is created in the here-and-no....this Eastern philosophy of yin and yang that is translated beautifully into a work of art that is as progressive as it is nostalgic and as aggressive as it is tender.
Jakob Baekgaard allaboutjazz.com

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Mitch Kessler: Der Erlkonig

“...Mitch Kessler has estabished himself as a soon to be dominate talent on the scene if he continues with this type of consistently strong and creative output. Mitch Kessler is an undiscovered treasure...” Vern Jazzwrap

“...Kessler has again delivered an intricate and creative balance of songwriting and musicianship....demonstrate(s) an immediacy and beauty not heard in American jazz for awhile....flows freely between post modern structures, spiritual themes and funky syncopation's. This is will be a real discovery for everyone. Mitch Kessler is well on his way to establishing himself as a new force on the scene.” - Stephan Moore DMG

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Jeff Marx/Jeff Siegel/John Esposito - Tahrir

“.....Considering that this is a trio (piano/sax/drums) without a bassist, their sound is always full and brimming with cascading spirits and immense power.......Each of the ten songs here is a winner, utilizing the talents of all three members incredibly well. A more perfect release, I can't quite imagine!” - Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery

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Sangeeta Michael Berardi: Calling Coltrane


“....pits free improvisation and striking rhythmic instability in a way that challenges  listeners to find their own path to understanding Berardi's musical point.....some of Berardi's most inventive and personal playing.” Aaron Craven www.jazzreview.com

“.....soaring in from the far reaches of the solar system, making six electric strings sing like no one has before, or since, with a sound that is cosmic in scope, orchestral, deeply spiritual and mysterious and singularly, ass-kickingly virtuosic, something like Jimi Hendrix might have sounded had he gone deep into jazz and joined Coltrane's band in 1966.
Dan McClenaghan allaboutjazz.com

 

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Sangeeta Michael Berardi: The Mr P Sessions


".....This is a gloriously sprawling, 2 CD hodgepodge of sound….. Berardi explores a world of ringing vibrations on these instruments where his Parkinson's tremors are incorporated into the artistry, beautifully…..featuring Berardi's still-eloquent work on acoustic guitar…..The Mr. P Sessions is a triumphant offering from Sangeeta Michael Berardi."
Dan McClenaghan allaboutjazz.com

 


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Bob Murad: The Observer

“The harmonically advanced compositions are quite original in both their melodies and their chord changes, and the individual musicians all have their own sounds and approaches to playing modern jazz……excellent interplay between Faife and Murad……. rhythmically exciting with adventurous solos……….solid and joyful swinging…...an impressive effort by Bob Murad, a pianist and composer who deserves to be much better known. “
                                                Scott Yanow, author of 11 books on Jazz including Trumpet Kings, The Great Jazz Guitarists and Jazz On Record 1917-76

 

“…. an uplifting musical program.…..both an homage to the Bluenote classic tradition and forward looking gesture, displaying a high level of originality, skill and confidence. A fresh voice deserving wider recognition.”
                                            Benito Gonzalez, June 2015

"Bob Murad is a fascinating tunesmith, with compositions that are full of nooks and crannies to explore. But the real joy is in his piano playing. The tone is luminous, the harmonies rich, the turns of phrase bewitching." ~ MICHAEL J. WEST