Wednesday, January 19, 2011

John Esposito: Orisha

John Esposito (piano; b. 1953)
Orisha (Sun Jump Records; 2010)
Ira Coleman (bass)
Peter O'Brien (drums)

It looks like tradition is running wild at JazzWrap this week.

New York native, John Esposito has been on the scene for over three decades. He has worked with a variety of jazz artists including Dave Douglas, Ryan Kisor, Dave Holland and Sam Rivers among others. He has a style that is relaxed but also complexed. There is a beautiful side to his compositions that reminds me of the craftier moments of Bill Charlap or Blue Note era Herbie Hancock.

He has played in a variety of contexts but the two albums that have always drawn my attention are his trio dates. The latest, Orisha (Sun Jump Records) is a wonderful collection of originals (unlike the previous release Down Blue Marlin Road, which heavily featured standards and originals) that are joyous and jumpin'.

While Esposito is the leader on this date, this is definitely a group affair. On "Myanmar" the trio move through uptempo and midtempo without hesitation. It's a lovely introspective listen that is emotional effective.

"Fly" written and performed by drummer, Peter O'Brien, while short is nicely and fiercely delivered and moves quickly into "Stygian Bright", a multi-patterned piece with some nice chordal changes by Esposito. "Personal Blues" while based on a blues structure doesn't move in a blues fashion. This is a fast paced number that delivers a night club feel that you are bound to find intoxicating.

Orisha is a stellar collection of high spirited originals performed by a trio that while not playing regularly, demonstrates years of experience of which they all hold, rolled up into just over an hour of marvelous listening.

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