Down Blue Marlin Road
John's latest CD, Down Blue Marlin Road, is a trio effort and marks the end of a long period of working almost solely as a sideman and composer. The trio album, featuring Pete O'Brien (drums) and Ira Coleman (bass), is an adventurous attempt to reimagine some of jazz's more ridden warhorses. While a certain hint of familiarity remains on tunes like On Green Dolphin Street and It Was Just One Of Those Things the trio takes the tunes to unexpected new places. Critic/Composer Kyle Gann calls Down Blue Marlin Road a "virtuoso feat of recomposition as well as performance...jazz purified to the essence." Down Blue Marlin Road exposes the great talent, wit, and energy John brings to every project whether he is playing, composing, or simply producing. The relative intimacy of the trio setting allows the listener to experience the fullness of John's imaginative reconstruction of great standards. It is not merely composition, however, that makes the album. Listen for the undeniable facility with which these three musicians play each track. Of John in specific hear what critic John Szwed calls "...the lustrous clarity of a gamelan band... using repetition so brilliantly that crystalline forms accrue from it." John Esposito is a New York State native and grew up in a family steeped in musical tradition. His grandfather was a noted teacher and violin maker who played violin with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and also worked with various theatre and jazz bands on violin and reeds starting in the early 1920's. John's first performance experiences were playing harmonica in a blues band as a teenager. He attended SUNY Albany as a composition major. He spent several years after college in Albany as the house pianist at the Gemini Jazz café working with J.R. Monterose and Nick Brignola and led his own group before coming to New York City in 1980. It was then that he began working with talented, young saxophonist/pianist/guitarist Arthur Rhames. For the next five years he would be an integral part of the Arthur Rhames Quartet with Jeff Siegel (drums) and Otto Gardner, documented on only one recording, "Arthur Rhames Live At Soundscape." In 1985, John formed Second Sight - a jazz quintet with Dave Douglas, Jeff Marx, Allen Murphy, Jeff Siegel, and Fred Berryhill. They recorded Flying With The Comet in 1986. Soon to be re-released, the album was comprised of original compositions which they released on John's independent label: SunJump Records. Their second recording, Tiger Tracks, recorded in 1987 is an upcoming SunJump release. Of Second Sight, Gene Santoro in Pulse! Magazine wrote: "This sextet swings like mad and bubbles over with lively effervescent chops to spare." Throughout the eighties John also put in time as a sideman for Carter Jefferson, John Stubblefield, Roswell Rudd, Hugh Brodie and many others. In the nineties John began working with the groups of Franklin Kiermyer and Eric Person as a pianist and arranger. He has recorded four albums with Kiermyer including Solomon's Daughter, with tenor saxophone giant Pharoah Sanders, and four albums with Eric Person's MetaFour beginning with Eric's More Tales to Tell with Dave Holland and Gene Jackson. John is on the faculty of Bard College and teaches ensembles, jazz theory, repertory, and advanced composition techniques classes there. He has recently returned to being a bandleader with two current releases. One is Down Blue Marlin Road - a trio album of reharmonized and rearranged jazz standards with Ira Coleman (bass) and Pete O'Brien (drums) - and the other is The Blue People - a quintet date of original material featuring Eric Person (sax), Greg Glassman (trumpet), Kenny Davis (bass), and Peter O'Brien. He is preparing several projects for CD release including two Second Sight sessions, a nonet session - "The Book of Five Rings," and some previously unreleased Arthur Rhames performances.
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