BAMBOO BLUE: a story
The birth of this CD, Bamboo Blue, began inside a little bungalow in the coastal town of Santa Barbara, California where our band Chasm used to rehearse. We always started out by jamming to the same Am blues before getting down to our serious practice. This warm up jam later developed into what is now the CD’s opening track, Bamboo Blues. These rehearsals took place in the home of Michael Whipple (Chasm co-founder) where he often fed everyone afterwards. He liked serving up his latest experimental culinary creation such as Cajun blackened shark tacos or curried lamb-burgers between big Portobello mushroom cap buns, saying he was trying to balance extremes between taste and texture. I don’t know, but it sure was good. The food, not only the music was world fusion. Eventually these bungalow sessions came to an end when Michael relocated to Oregon.
Chasm carried on as a foursome with Brad Strickland on guitar, Arne Anselm on bass, and I on guitar & marimba along with various drummers sitting in. Later Brad brought Aaron Winters onboard as a steady drummer with his hi-bred djembe trap kit. It was during this period that new songs were written, developed and improvised in front of live audiences, unlike the music from the first two Chasm releases (self-titled CHASM and Panorhythmica) that were developed during the recording process. By the time we hit the recording studio for Bamboo Blue we were quite ready with various arrangements of each song to pick from. The sessions went very smooth and some first takes were chosen to be on the album.
After the four of us recorded our parts I asked Michael to reunite with the band ~ virtually that is. He agreed to track his flute, percussion and keyboard parts up in Oregon and send them down to me as digital files. I then transferred them to what we had already recorded and… KA-BLAM!... he was back in the band. Also, guest musicians from our past joined the sessions such as drummer Brad Ranola who is featured on the song Soothsayer Swing, Bodhi Jones with his big drums on Now What? and Mark Freddy who sings on the final track, A Balance Of Extremes (a ditty Michael and I wrote long ago but never recorded until now).
At the end of the recording process it was this track, A Balance OF Extremes, which we disagreed over. Michael thought the song did not fit the jungle jazz vibe of the rest of the album and therefore should not be on the CD. I agreed with the vibe part, but as producer I still thought it should stay. Conceding this, he then suggested I remix the song to make it even more different than the other tracks by pumping the drums, fuzzing the flutes and slap-backing the vocals. Counter intuitive! I loved the idea and felt that as long as it was the last track on the album, no matter how unrelated to the rest of the music, when played on a CD wheel it could sound like the first song on the next disc. Huh? What? I’ll let you the listener be the judge of all this.
A musical journey that began in 1987 continues with the release of Chasm''s third CD, Bamboo Blue. It was back when Mark Esakoff and Michael Whipple met while working aboard the ship Queen Mary in Long Beach, California that they formed a multi-instrumental duo known as Chasm [kaz''m]. Since then they have continued to evolve with their jungle jazz sound; a tropical blend of jazz within a world music setting.
Chasm’s sound originally centered on instruments that resonate from one of three sources: “wood” (marimba, bamboo chimes, etc.), “skin” (congas, gut/nylon strings, etc.), or “wind” (flute, recorder, etc.). Later, some metallic and electric sounds were added for sparkle. Chasm’s sound concept is to connect primitive acoustic textures with modern musical structures. The result is instrumental music with a uniquely earthy sound. It is their contribution to the diverse genre of World Fusion.
Bamboo Blue (2008) is the first CD with three new band members who were not present on the previous releases, self-titled CHASM (1995) and Panorhythmica (2000). Although the new CD has the same chasmic sound as their other albums, there are some fresh twists and turns due to the influences from the new guys who have joined the journey. The intention is to rhythmically transport the listener to an exotic getaway.
Based in Ventura, CA ~ Chasm is: Mark Esakoff on classical guitar, marimba & ukulele; Michael Whipple on flute, keyboards & percussion; Brad Strickland on classical guitar & electric sitar; Arne Anselm on upright acoustic bass; and Aaron Winters on drum kit & djembe.
Guest musicians also appear: Brad Ranola on drums, bongos & cajon; Bodhi Jones on bass & drums; and Mark Freddy on danmo, angklung & vocals.
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Mark Esakoff was born in Montebello, CA. Playing guitar and marimba; he comes from a musical background in rock and folk, later being inspired by jazz and flamenco. As co-founder of Chasm, he considers himself a songwriter with a sound concept more than a guitarist. The acoustic nylon string guitar is just the prominent voice within the concept along with the marimba which he plays like a “log drum piano”.
Michael Whipple was born in Oxnard, CA. Playing flutes, keyboards, congas & percussion; he comes from a musical background in prog-rock, jazz and later experimented with numerous fringe genres. Being a “chameleon” of sorts he uses musical instruments as tools to realize color, line, shape and texture as he reacts visually to what he hears. Whipple also performs, composes and records jazz under his given name.
Brad Strickland was born in Hempstead, NY. Playing guitar and electric sitar; he comes from a musical background rooted in rock and has since evolved into a very proficient jazz and classical guitarist. His most noteworthy contributions to Chasm’s music are his endless array of “heady” guitar solos. And in the tradition of jazz, he rarely repeats himself. Strickland is also the founder of the jazz fusion band, The Art Farmers.
Arne Anselm was born in Santa Barbara, CA. Playing the upright acoustic bass; he comes from a musical background rooted in punk, but has now morphed into a world music bassist. He is able to create rich tones that provide the perfect “acoustic couch” for Chasm’s sound with his 1930’s Juzek double-bass from Czechoslovakia. Anselm also plays in the Gypsy jazz band, Swing Cheese.
Aaron Winters was born in Los Angeles, CA. Playing drums & percussion; he comes from a musical background in rock, jazz, funk and reggae, then later explored world music rhythms. With this he has developed his own style and plays a hi-bred drum set using the djembe instead of the traditional drums. He often plays a different rhythm to the same song from gig to gig. Winters helps reinvent Chasm’s music by causing “happy accidents”.
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