Entertaining New Music From Chasm

Bruce Von Stiers

Chasm is a jazz group that has been together, more or less, since 1987. They started out as a duo with Mark Esakoff and Michael Allen Whipple. Keeping it simple, yet incorporating several instruments into their music, Chasm created quite a following. This following allowed for Chasm to record three albums, including last year’s highly rated Bamboo Blue.

Now Chasm has recorded a new album. It began as a solo guitar project for Mark but ended up being a Chasm album instead. The title of the album is The Lovejoy Sessions. The title came from the street name where the album was recorded.

Whereas Bamboo Blue had several additional musicians, there is only Mark and Michael on this album. Well, not exactly. Mark’s daughter Audrey is on the album for a song. On the album Mark plays classical guitar and does vocals. Michael plays flute, keyboards and provides percussion for the album. Audrey, for her part, plays piano.

The Time Necklace is the first song. It is a beautiful, soft and gentle guitar based piece.

For the second song, things speed up a little bit. The song is called Until Goodbye and features some very interesting slightly African styled percussion at the front of it. It has cool flute music and excellent guitar.

Facing The Moon is the third song. A mixed bag of sound effects, slight rock overtones, flamenco and several other things make this song pretty different. I thought that the guys did a good job of incorporating several instruments into the song.

You get an almost orchestral film soundtrack effect in the first part of Land of the Living – Mirrorworld Mix. Then classic guitar mixes in with beautiful flute and other instruments to make a wonderful and elegant song. This is a remix of a song from the 1995 album, CHASM.

Between The River & The Sea has a slight Spanish styling to it primarily featuring the guitar.

Broken Windows is the song that features Mark’s daughter Audrey Esakoff on piano. It was a song that she wrote. The song is definitely interesting, with various sound effects and percussion backing a repeating piano sequence.

Alphanumerique is a slick, slight toe tapper featuring the flute. It has light overtone that reminded me of ‘70’s adventure film soundtracks.

Elysian Fields – Topographic Mix is another really good piece that has great guitar blanketed by excellent percussion and keys. There is a part near the end of the song where the keyboard work is reminiscent of synth work by great bands like Three Dog Night. The guys kind of compare the song to an energetic, rock version of Ravel’s Bolero. It is also a remix of a song from the album CHASM.

They took one of the songs from their last album and added a slightly different touch. The song is Bamboo Blues and the guys gave it a subtitle of Homage Du Gil Mix. Terrific flute and guitar plus a touch of orchestral atmosphere make this a wonderful song. It is basically a tribute to the work that jazz orchestral arranger Gil Evans did with Miles Davis on the album Sketches of Spain.

The last song on the album is also the only one with vocals. The song is from Contemporary Christian artist Todd Agnew and is called Grace Like Rain. Based on the traditional hymn Amazing Grace, Mark sang the song at an aunt’s funeral. Several people told Mark that he should record the song, so it ended up on this album. Mark does an excellent job on vocals and the music is really good.

Chasm is definitely entertaining. I immensely enjoyed their last effort, Bamboo Blue. But I’ve got to say that I might even enjoy The Lovejoy Sessions even better. With the varied styling on the songs, it was a pure pleasure to listen to. I especially like Alphanumerique.

To learn more about Chasm and this album, visit www.chasm-music.net



© 2009 Bruce E Von Stiers